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Excerpt
The following is an excerpt from the book The Way We Eat:
Why Our Food Choices Matter
by Peter Singer and Jim Mason
Published by Rodale; May 2006; $25.95US/$34.95CAN;
1-57954-889-X
Copyright 2006 Peter Singer and Jim Mason

Certified What?

In 2002, when UEP announced that they would release a set of standards for animal welfare, Paul Shapiro and Miyun Park were hopeful. "We were naive enough," Shapiro says, "to think that they might voluntarily reform. Then we read the guidelines and saw that they would permit barren battery cages, beak searing, and forced molting through starvation." Now Shapiro and Park were even more outraged than before: "This was not just a case of animal cruelty, it had become a case of consumer fraud," Shapiro says. So they decided to go back to some of the egg farms where they had done their open rescues a year or so before. "We knew what the conditions were like back then and now here they are 'Animal Care Certified', so we thought, 'OK let's see if there's been any change'. We found the conditions were exactly the same. There is no noticeable difference between the photos of 2003 and those of 2001."

In June 2003, COK filed petitions with the Better Business Bureau objecting to UEP'S "Animal Care Certified" logo as false advertising. After examining documents submitted by UEP and COK, the Better Business Bureau ruled that the "Animal Care Certified" seal was misleading and should be discontinued. The egg trade group appealed, but the appeal board upheld the earlier ruling. More months passed, and UEP made no changes in its "Animal Care Certified" program. In August 2004, the Better Business Bureau determined that UEP was failing to comply with its ruling and formally referred the matter to the Federal Trade Commission for law enforcement action.

The pressure on the egg producers was mounting. In May 2005, UEP announced that it was recommending that egg producers switch to a molting process that does not involve starving hens and that this recommendation would, from January 1, 2006, become a requirement of a new animal care certification program. Producers should use a feed with lower protein levels instead of taking away food entirely, UEP now said. Then, in September 2005, after being "encouraged" by the Federal Trade Commission to do more, the egg trade body announced it was dropping the "animal care certified" logo and replacing it with one saying "United Egg Producers Certified: Produced in compliance with UEP animal husbandry guidelines." That may be literally accurate, but many consumers will still assume it means good animal welfare, when the truth is very far from that. 

Reprinted from: The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason  2006 Peter Singer and Jim Mason. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at www.rodalestore.com.