29 August 2010 - We Need Action to Protect our Industries

The recent recall of millions of eggs from farms in Iowa brought out in full force, in full attack gear, the extreme animal rights and pro-vegetarian groups.

The Humane Society of the United States issued a press release headlined “The Humane Society of the United States Calls on Iowa’s Egg Industry to Phase Out Cage Confinement of Hens, Strengthen Food Safety. H.S.U.S. President Warns of a Public Health Crisis in the Making”. Wayne Pacelle called on the state’s egg industry to begin discussions to phase out the use of battery cages where, according to the press release, laying hens are crammed into tiny cages that are inhumane and threaten food safety. The press release also quoted a recent scientific, but un-named study, that showed confining hens in cages significantly increases salmonella risk.

In Chicago, a pro-vegetarian organization named Mercy for Animals, donned bio-hazard suits and picketed super markets, talking to consumers on the way in and out, telling them it is time to put an end to “factory farm egg production in this country.”

Once again, the H.S.U.S. used emotion instead of science in making its claims. Several days after their press release was issued, the Food & Drug Administration announced that the source of salmonella had been found in the feed and had nothing to do with cage egg production. No retraction from H.S.U.S. because that would admit they were wrong once again and it would not help their mission to shut down animal agriculture.

This recall is exactly what animal agriculture does not need. And it really didn’t help that the Iowa producer has been fined several times over the past decade for environmental, labor and humane violations. It raises serious questions about oversight and enforcement on the part of local government officials who like the taxes and employment, as well as the ability of FDA and USDA to police the food industry. It may take more money to provide additional inspectors and enforcement officers, but it could be money well-spent for agriculture and all consumers.

Finally, it once again emphasizes the importance of traceability when we have this kind of a recall. It is critical that we find the source immediately so that all producers are not penalized in the marketplace. Locating the source quickly spared egg producers of the industry-wide loss of sales experienced by tomato growers a couple years ago. I also appreciated the quick response of the egg industry with its full-page ads in urban newspapers assuring consumers that cooked eggs were safe.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.