ATLANTA, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- United Egg Producers, the nation's largest egg trade association, is criticizing Wild Oats Markets' decision to sell only cage-free eggs, saying consumers are losing their freedom of choice and shoppers at Wild Oats will be forced to pay an extra $1 million annually for eggs. "Cage free eggs are sold at twice the price of regular eggs and are much more profitable for retailers," said Gene Gregory, Vice President for United Egg Producers. "Wild Oats' decision may be based more on profit motives than on concerns about hens." Consumers who want to be free to make their own purchasing decisions about the kinds of eggs they prefer or who want more competitive prices may want to shop at other grocery stores, he added. There are no science-based guidelines for cage free production, and many cage free hens are subject to more diseases, predators and weather, Gregory said. Only eggs that carry the Animal Care Certified seal ( www.animalcarecertified.com ) are based on scientific guidelines which were developed by the egg industry in conjunction with an independent scientific committee of animal welfare experts. That Animal Care Certified seal is the consumers' only guarantee that the eggs were produced in proper conditions which provide adequate space, food, water, air and cleanliness. The Animal Care Certified program guidelines are supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Food Marketing Institute and the National Council of Chain Restaurants. Egg farms participating in the Animal Care Certified program are inspected by auditors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or another independent organization. The United Egg Producers have fired off a letter to Wild Oats Markets president & CEO Perry Odak protesting their decision and requesting a meeting to provide him with scientific materials about the Animal Care Certified program, Gregory said. "We're disappointed Wild Oats made this decision unilaterally without engaging our industry association or some of the scientific animal welfare experts who are most knowledgeable about this issue. Rather they have relied on an animal activist campaign manager who does not even eat eggs."
SOURCE United Egg Producers