Cage-Free? Free-Range? How Egg Carton Claims Relate to Salmonella Risks

By Leah Zerbe
Rodale Institute

Free-range hens might not be as free as you think, but their eggs are a better choice than battery-cage eggs, the type implicated in the massive egg recall. In light of that ongoing egg recall, you’re probably checking your egg cartons more carefully, or at least you should be. Egg recall numbers all seem to point back to an egg producer in Iowa with a history of cruel production practices and violations. But did you know that 95 percent of eggs in this country come from hens confined to cages so tiny they can’t even spread their wings? And scientists have found that these factory-farm conditions cause the risk of salmonella to skyrocket.

A study published earlier this year in the journal Veterinary Record found that the eggs of cage-raised hens had a 7.77 times greater odds of harboring Salmonella bacteria than eggs from non-caged hens. A 2008 Belgium study published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine found a whopping 7.88 to 21.52 times greater odds of Salmonella contamination in operations that caged hens.

If this country is ready to have a serious food-safety discussion, phasing out cages for laying hens would certainly be a good place to start (some states, such as California, Michigan, and Ohio, are already working on that). If cheap, caged eggs freak you out—as they should—you’re likely looking at egg carton labels more closely to find healthier, more humane eggs. Read on to learn about the different meanings behind the claims made on those labels.

Read full post at Rodale Institute

6 responses to “Cage-Free? Free-Range? How Egg Carton Claims Relate to Salmonella Risks

  1. You cannot know how happy I am that maybe we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for these poor suffering chickens. How we could have allowed them to suffer so much is beyond my imagination. Sadly, it will take years before these more humane conditions are implemented, but I pray God that they finally are and that we will never go back to torturing chickens for their eggs. Ditto calves, cows, pigs etc. for their products. They have basic needs like our own and deserve to be treated humanely. I hope you agree.

  2. I am SO thankful that we have our own, small flock of hens (9) and a rooster! They are roaming around our small acreage from morning till dusk, and are fed organic mash, plus lots of kitchen scraps from our gardens.
    I had no idea Michigan is one of the states phasing out cages. Hope they do the same for turkeys. We have a turkey “farm” a few acres behind us, and the stench is unbearable when they get to cleaning those places out.

  3. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Food Freedom | Decentralize, Grow Your Own, Buy Local.

  4. Does anyone here knows about the watering of chickens. Ive been using the gardening hose to give chickens fresh water. Since our rural water district in our town is providing bad water, Ive ordered a filter to go on the water hose. Or does it matter about the water?

    Also, can anyone give me the name or the organic feed I can buy?

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