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Cage-housing tie lacks truths

Published Sep. 10, 2010 | Discuss this article on Facebook

Source: Feedstuffs | By Rod Smith | August 30, 2010

As the egg recall related to salmonella-contaminated eggs from two farms spread over the Aug. 21-22 weekend, so did allegations that eggs from big, cage-housing operations are prone to the bacteria.

Nothing is further from the truth, according to Feedstuffs sources. Salmonella can contaminate any animal- or plant-based food from any kind or size of farm operation, and the last major incident in which eggs and salmonella were linked was two years ago in eggs from a cage-free, organic production system, sources noted.

Still, a noticeably larger-than-usual number of customers -- many of them new to farmers markets -- lined up across the country over the weekend to buy eggs from local producers, who said they were selling out early in the mornings. Many of those producers, in conversations with customers, were critical of modern cage housing and large-scale production, according to news reports.

The Humane Society of the Unites States seized on the recall news to condemn cage housing as a food safety threat and urged U.S. egg producers to cease the housing practice and transition to cage-free operations.

However, scientists and veterinarians, in a paper released to Feedstuffs, said there are advantages and disadvantages to all hen housing types and suggested several benefits to modern cage housing, including...

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