Mondelēz International, Nestlé and Unilever are among the signatories of a joint letter calling on the EU to phase out the use of caged hens in animal farming.
The letter, which was sent to the EU Commission and Members of the EU Parliament, was also signed by Aldi Nord, Barilla Group, Fattoria Roberti and Ferrero, among others.
The signatories claim that “cage-free systems are widespread, economically viable and provide better living conditions for hens”.
The revision of EU animal welfare legislation, which is currently under preparation, is identified as an opportunity to end the use of cages in animal farming, starting with caged hens.
According to Compassion in World Farming, more than 300 million farmed animals are confined in cages every year across the EU.
In 2018, the animal welfare organisation joined forces with 170 European NGOs to launch the ‘End the Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), calling for an end to the practice in the EU. The aims of the ECI – which closed a year later having gained 1.4 million verified signatures – are commended in the letter.
“Many businesses are already ahead of the game, having phased out cages in their supply chains. A cage-free future is possible and is already being enabled by some progressive companies,” said Olga Kikou, head of Compassion in World Farming EU and substitute representative of the ‘End the Cage Age’ ECI.
“The EU now needs to catch up and revise the legislation for farmed animals, Directive 98/58/EC, so that the cruel use of cages is brought to an end, for all farmed species.”
Tracey Jones, director of food business at Compassion in World Farming, added: “It’s great to have these leading businesses supporting our call to phase out cages for laying hens across the EU, but given Brexit, we must maintain pressure on the UK government too.
“In the UK, all the major supermarkets have either ended the sale of eggs from caged hens or have committed to do so by 2025. We need UK legislation, however, to be in place to eliminate all caged production and to stop the import of eggs, particularly ingredient egg, from caged systems.”
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