On October 1, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a class action lawsuit alleging that two California egg producers, Judy's Family Farm Organic Eggs and Petaluma Egg Farm, have been lying to consumers about the treatment of egg-laying hens on their factory farms. In stark contrast to the idyllic barnyard scenes depicted on their egg packaging, hens at these so-called "free-range" facilities are crowded by the thousands into dark sheds for nearly their entire lives.
According to ALDF, these major egg producers have misled concerned consumers into paying more money for some of the same abuses one might expect from a factory egg farm. As a result of the lawsuit, these companies could pay millions of dollars to defrauded consumers for violating California's unfair competition laws.
After learning about the cruelty involved in factory-farmed products, some people think "free-range," "cage-free," or "organic" meat, egg, and dairy products are the solution. But animal agriculture by its very nature exploits animals. While free-range systems typically require some access to the outdoors--and in that way, are an improvement on conventional battery-cage systems whereby hens are crammed into cages so small they can't even spread their wings--treating animals as commodities to be consumed inevitably subjects these animals to needless suffering.
Free-range hens endure much of the same misery as battery-caged hens, including overcrowded living conditions, denial of veterinary care, abusive handling, painful mutilations without anesthesia, and violent slaughter.
Don't believe the egg industry's hype. With the numerous egg alternatives available today for all types of cooking and baking, consumers should drop eggs from their diets in favor of a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle.