ATLANTA -- Stung by a negative ruling from the Better Business Bureau, the United Egg Producers will defend its animal care certification logo with the Federal Trade Commission -- and continue printing the logo on egg cartons, a spokesman for the UEP told SN.
In fact, officials with the UEP had met with the FTC to discuss the case, even before the BBB's National Advertising Division announced it was referring a complaint against the logo to the FTC, said UEP spokesman Mitch Head. Unlike the BBB, the FTC has enforcement power.
The complaint, originally filed by animal advocacy organization Compassion Over Killing, claimed the logo misled consumers into believing hens are treated humanely. On its Web site, COK stated its investigators had documented routine animal abuse at "Animal Care Certified" egg factory farms.
The NAD recommended the UEP discontinue the logo or modify it to communicate more specifically what the certification means. Officials from UEP thought they had addressed those concerns when they added a line, the Web site address, www.animalcarecertified.com, to the logo, Head said.
The site explains the UEP's program, a voluntary initiative consisting of standards designed to protect the comfort, health and safety of chickens. The program has been endorsed by the Food Marketing Institute and the National Council of Chain Restaurants.
"That one change cost egg producers and retailers about $1 million to $2 million, just to change the logo three months ago," Head told SN. "We would have preferred they tell us three months ago what they wanted us to do."
In the coming weeks, a new UEP brochure for consumers, detailing how the program works, will be available to supermarkets.