Do you shop at Costco? If so, you may want to think again. Costco has a dirty secret – despite claiming to be a leader on farm animal welfare, Costco is serving cruel caged eggs from filthy cages to its Asian customers.
At caged-egg suppliers’ farms, faeces and dirt are caked on the bars of cages where eggs are laid, and faeces piles up just centimetres away from eggs and from the birds themselves. Mother hens are crammed for nearly their entire lives in cages so small and cruel they are illegal in dozens of other countries around the world. The corpses of dead hens are left to decompose right next to hens laying eggs for human consumption.
Costco has committed to serving only cage-free eggs – which are far safer, higher quality and more humane – in the US, Canada and Europe. But Costco seems to think Asian customers don’t deserve the same quality of food. While dozens of leading food companies have committed to using only cage-free eggs in Asia, Costco has failed to keep up. It continues to serve Asian customers eggs from filthy, cruel caged egg farms.
It’s time for Costco to stop supporting this severe animal cruelty, and stop discriminating against Asian customers. It’s time for Costco to catch up with its peers and pledge to sell only cage-free eggs in Asia by 2025 at the latest.
Costco: I won’t shop at your stores again until you catch up with other leading food companies and commit to stop selling eggs from filthy, cruel cages in Asia by 2025 at the latest. It’s time for Costco to treat Asian customers equally and go 100% cage-free！
Over a dozen scientific studies have found that caged egg farms have dramatically higher rates of salmonella contamination. The European Food Safety Authority conducted the largest study ever on the issue, analysing data from five thousand farms. It found that caged egg farms are 25 times more likely to be contaminated with key salmonella strains. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
There are numerous reasons why packing hens in cages causes food safety risks. Research by the United States Department of Agriculture shows the stress of cage confinement makes hens more vulnerable to disease. Cages are also hard to clean and disinfect, leading to “a larger volume of contaminated fecal material and dust.” (18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23)
Just like dogs and cats, chickens are smart, intelligent individuals that feel pleasure and pain. Packing an animal for nearly her entire life in a cage so small she can barely turn around is simply wrong. (24)
Cages for hens are so cruel they have been banned in dozens of countries around the world, including some states of Costco’s home country, the US. In Washington, where Costco’s headquarters is located, caged eggs are banned, and yet Costco is happy to serve eggs to Asian customers that it cannot legally sell to its customers in Washington.
Every mainstream animal protection organisation around the world condemns cages as cruel and inhumane. (25, 26, 27)
Here is what just a few such organisations have said:
“Intensive farm animal confinement is barbaric and out of line with contemporary values.”
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
“Hens in cages are more prone to stress and injury, and an increased risk of salmonella.”
World Animal Protection
“It’s inhumane for hens—intelligent, active animals—to be confined to cages so small they can barely move an inch for almost their entire life.”
Humane Society International
These organisations are not associated with this website
Costco continues to serve Asian customers eggs from suppliers who confine hens in cruel and filthy cages
In caged-egg farms in Asia, dead hens are left to rot in cages alongside live hens
Each mother hen spends nearly her entire life packed in a cage so small she can barely turn around
Citations on the food safety risks and animal cruelty of cages for egg-laying hens
1: Van Hoorebeke S, Van Immerseel F, Schulz J, et al. 2010. Determination of the within and between flock prevalence and identification of risk factors for Salmonella infections in laying hen flocks housed in conventional and alternative systems. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 94(1-2):94-100.
2: Snow LC, Davies RH, Christiansen KH, et al. 2010. Investigation of risk factors for Salmonella on commercial egg-laying farms in Great Britain, 2004-2005. Veterinary Record 166(19):579-86.
3: 2010. Annual Report on Zoonoses in Denmark 2009. National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark.
4: Van Hoorebeke S, Van Immerseel F, De Vylder J et al. 2010. The age of production system and previous Salmonella infections on farm are risk factors for low-level Salmonella infections in laying hen flocks. Poultry Science 89:1315-1319.
5: Huneau-Salaün A, Chemaly M, Le Bouquin S, et al. 2009. Risk factors for Salmonella enterica subsp. Enteric contamination in 5 French laying hen flocks at the end of the laying period. Preventative Veterinary Medicine 89:51-8.
6: Green AR, Wesley I, Trampel DW, et al. 2009 Air quality and bird health status in three types of commercial egg layer houses. Journal of Applied Poultry Research 18:605-621.
7: Schulz J, Luecking G, Dewulf J, Hartung J. 2009. Prevalence of Salmonella in German battery cages and alternative housing systems. 14th International congress of the International Society for Animal Hygiene: Sustainable animal husbandry : prevention is better than cure. pp. 699-702. http://www.safehouse-project.eu/vars/fichiers/pub_defaut/Schulz_Salmonella_ISAH%202009.ppt.
8: Namata H, Méroc E, Aerts M, et al. 2008. Salmonella in Belgian laying hens: an identification of risk factors. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 83(3-4):323-36.
9: Mahé A, Bougeard S, Huneau-Salaün A, et al. 2008. Bayesian estimation of flock-level sensitivity of detection of Salmonella spp. Enteritidis and Typhimurium according to the sampling procedure in French laying-hen houses. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 84(1-2):11-26.
10: Pieskus J, et al. 2008. Salmonella incidence in broiler and laying hens with the different housing systems. Journal of Poultry Science 45:227-231.
11: European Food Safety Authority. 2007. Report of the Task Force on Zoonoses Data Collection on the Analysis of the baseline study on the prevalence of Salmonella in holdings of laying hen flocks of Gallus gallus. The EFSA Journal 97. www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1178620761896.htm.
12: Snow LC, Davies RH, Christiansen KH, et al. 2007. Survey of the prevalence of Salmonella species on commercial laying farms in the United Kingdom. The Veterinary Record 161(14):471-6.
13: Methner U, Diller R, Reiche R, and Böhland K. 2006. [Occurence of salmonellae in laying hens in different housing systems and inferences for control]. Berliner und Münchener tierärztliche Wochenschrift 119(11-12):467-73.
14: Much P, Österreicher E, Lassnig. H. 2007. Results of the EU-wide Baseline Study on the Prevalence of Salmonella spp. in Holdings of Laying Hens in Austria. Archiv für Lebensmittelhygiene 58:225-229.
15: Stepien-Pysniak D. 2010. Occurrence of Gram-negative bacteria in hens’ eggs depending on their source and storage conditions. Polish Journal of Veterinary Sciences 13(3):507-13.
16: Humane Society International, “An HSI Report: Food Safety and Cage Egg Production” (2010). HSI Reports: Farm Animal Protection. 3. http://animalstudiesrepository.org/hsi_reps_fap/3
17: European Food Safety Authority. 2007. Report of the Task Force on Zoonoses Data Collection on the Analysis of the baseline study on the prevalence of Salmonella in holdings of laying hen flocks of Gallus gallus. The EFSA Journal 97. www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1178620761896.htm
18: The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. 2004. The national Salmonella control programme for the production of table eggs and broilers 1996-2002. Fødevare Rapport 6, March.
19: Davies R and Breslin M. 2003. Observations on Salmonella contamination of commercial laying farms before and after cleaning and disinfection. The Veterinary Record 152(10):283-7.
20: Methner U, Rabsch W, Reissbrodt R, and Williams PH. 2008. Effect of norepinephrine on colonisation and systemic spread of Salmonella enterica in infected animals: Role of catecholate siderophore precursors and degradation products. International Journal of Medical Microbiology 298(5-6):429-39.
21: Bailey MT, Karaszewski JW, Lubach GR, Coe CL, and Lyte M. 1999. In vivo adaptation of attenuated Salmonella Typhimurium results in increased growth upon exposure to norepinephrine. Physiology and Behavior 67(3):359-64.
22: Shini S, Kaiser P, Shini A, and Bryden WL. 2008. Biological response of chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) induced by corticosterone and a bacterial endotoxin. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part B. 149(2):324-33.
23: Rostagno MH. 2009. Can stress in farm animals increase food safety risk? Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 6(7):767-76.
24: Marino, L. 2017. Thinking chickens: a review of cognition, emotion, and behavior in the domestic chicken. Animal Cognition 20(2): 127–147.
25: “European_Union_Council_Directive_1999/74/EC.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web 03 August 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Council_Directive_1999/74/EC
26: “Farm Animal Confinement Bans.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Web. 03 August 2018, www.aspca.org/animal-protection/public-policy/farm-animal-confinement-bans
27: World Organization for Animal Health, “Terrestrial Animal Health Code” (2017). www.rr-africa.oie.int/docspdf/en/Codes/en_csat-vol1.pdf