Friday, June 03, 2005

Wild Oats Gives Chickens Something To Crow About: No More Cages

Great News!!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wild Oats Gives Chickens Something To Crow About: No More Cages
Natural Foods Retailer Is First National Chain to Commit
Exclusively To
Cage-Free Eggs For Its Approved National And Regional
Product Lists

WASHINGTON (May 31, 2005) – Today, The Humane Society of the United
States (HSUS) and Wild Oats Markets, Inc. announced an historic victory
in the effort to combat intensive confinement systems in animal
agribusiness. After multiple discussions with The HSUS, Wild Oats, one of
the nation’s largest natural foods retail chains, agreed to avoid the
sale of eggs from caged birds in all of its 75 Wild Oats Natural
Marketplaces, located in 23 states.

While some U.S. companies, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s,
have asked their egg suppliers to increase cage space, this announcement
makes Wild Oats the nation’s first major chain to formally implement a
cage-free corporate policy for eggs. Wild Oats sold 1.6 million cartons
of eggs in 2004.

"Demand for improving the welfare of farm animals has never been higher,”
said Perry Odak, President and CEO of Wild Oats Markets, Inc. “We are
hopeful that our decision not to approve egg farmers who use caged birds
for our national and regional product lists will encourage the egg
industry to move in the direction of phasing out its use of battery
cages, and shifting toward cage-free methods that take the animals'
welfare into account."

Approximately 98 percent of eggs sold in the United States come from
birds confined in barren “battery cages” so small they can’t even spread
their wings, let alone engage in other natural behaviors such as nesting,
foraging, perching, and dust bathing—a practice that 86 percent of
Americans surveyed by Zogby International find unacceptable. Despite
this, battery cage egg production has increased over the last 50 years
and bears no resemblance to the idyllic barnyard setting of children’s
storybooks.

According to HSUS Factory Farming Campaign manager Paul Shapiro, “Birds
in battery cages suffer immensely. Wild Oats has taken a bold step by
avoiding the sale of eggs from caged birds, and we enthusiastically
applaud their efforts to help reduce animal suffering.”

This historic announcement also supports The HSUS’s No Battery Eggs
campaign, which is designed to encourage the egg industry to move away
from caged egg production. To date, The HSUS has already enjoyed
substantial success through its efforts to encourage university food
service providers to switch to an exclusively cage-free egg supply.
George Washington University has stopped selling battery cage eggs in its
school store, and food service providers AVI and Bon Appetit are testing
cage-free egg sales on campuses they serve.

Despite increasing regulation on the treatment of laying hens in the
European Union, virtually no laws exist in the United States to protect
these birds. Egg-laying hens are exempted from the federal Animal Welfare
Act and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and most states’
anti-cruelty statutes either explicitly exempt common farming practices,
no matter how abusive, or aren’t ever applied to farm animals.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal
protection organization with more than nine million members and
constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active
programs in companion animals and equine protection, wildlife and habitat
protection, animals in research and farm animal welfare. The HSUS
protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation,
legislation, advocacy, and field work. The non-profit organization is
based in Washington and has field representatives across the country. On
the web at www.hsus.org.


-30-

Media Contact:
The HSUS, Rachel Querry, 301-258-8255, rquerry@hsus.org
Wild Oats, Sonja Tuitele, 720-562-4984, stuitele@wildoats.com

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