ATLANTA -- The United Egg Producers unveiled a certification logo for cartons of eggs produced at facilities adhering to the animal care guidelines announced by food-industry trade groups in June. Egg producers representing 80% of the industry have already signed on to participate in the program, according to UEP officials.
To retain usage rights, suppliers must adhere to new standards that protect the comfort, health and safety of chickens, including: increased space per hen; standards for beak trimming; maintenance of fresh feed and water; and new rules for daily inspections.
A series of studies due to be completed this fall will look specifically at best practices regarding induced molting, a practice that generated some of the loudest objections by animal rights activists in pressing for the standards, which were developed by the Food Marketing Institute and the National Council of Chain Restaurants.
Participating producers will be subject to annual audits by an independent certification program, officials said.
The UEP guidelines, part of an umbrella program covering all food animals, were derived from the recommendations of an independent advisory panel convened in 1999 to review the treatment and care of egg-laying hens. The panel included representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Humane Society.