January 17, 2009

British chain bans eggs from caged hens

Sainsbury's, the third-largest supermarket chain in England, says it will stop selling eggs from hens kept in tight quarters called battery cages.

The grocer plans to only sell eggs from uncaged hens in what is considered a major victory for animal rights groups, which oppose cages, The Times of London reported Saturday.

We are delighted that all Sainsbury's shoppers will now enjoy higher welfare eggs whilst the other major retailers still continue with over half their eggs coming from caged hens, said Sainsbury's egg buyer Finbar Cartlidge.

Sainsbury's action comes three years before a European Union-wide ban on conventional factory-farm produced eggs comes into force.

It's fantastic news. When Sainsbury's makes a move like this it has huge impact, making animal welfare more mainstream, said Rowen West-Henzell, food business manager for Compassion in World Farming. They are doing the right thing on behalf of the consumer. My question to the other retailers is why aren't they responding? They've got a lot of catching up to do.

Under the coming EU ban on battery cages, poultry farmers will be allowed to build larger cages that give hens more space. But Sainsbury's says it will sell no eggs from caged birds.