Terrence O’Keefe, WATT’s content director, provides his perspective on everything from animal agriculture trends that impact our food chain to food-safety related issues affecting chicken and egg production. O’Keefe has covered the poultry industry as an editor for more than a decade and also brings his experience in plant management and poultry production to comment on today’s issues.
Poultry producers need to rethink the kind of feedback that is given to crews that handle live birds at all stages of their operations and pay particular attention to areas where injury to birds doesn’t result in significant economic loss.
Because of its size and the high visibility of its brand, McDonald’s has become a target for just about every activist group out there. The resulting public relations smear campaigns have resulted in the fast food giant making several changes in its purchasing practices for items as diverse as eggs, coffee, chicken meat and packaging materials.
Purposely selecting a breed of chickens because it grows slower seems like the least economically “sustainable” business model that I can imagine. But, with the interest Whole Foods has shown in slow-growing chickens here in the U.S. and the successful niche markets for these birds in France, the Netherlands and the U.K, I was really curious about what Claude Toudic with Hubbard France could tell us about these strains of chickens and the market for them in the Europe.
With the tsunami of cage-free egg purchase pledge announcements this year, you might think U.S. egg producers would be struggling to meet the surging demand for cage-free eggs, but that isn’t the case.
“In our interviews and review of industry research, there is not one report of a line worker getting paid time off, including personal time, vacation days, or sick days,” states the Oxfam report, Lives on the line.
There are five freedoms that animal welfare advocates say need to be provided to animals; freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury or disease; from fear and distress; and to express normal behaviors. When housing laying hens cage-free, it is the freedom to express normal behaviors that leads to the most problems.
I generally enjoy the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of agriculture and the poultry industry, but I was unpleasantly surprised by some things written in a recent article on the expanding market for “slow-growing” broilers.
The Egg Industry Center Issues Forum in Chicago April 20-21, brought together egg producers, trade association representatives, some researchers and even a few activists and representatives from McDonald's, and, as expected, the hot topic was cage-free egg purchase pledges. It isn't an exaggeration to say that the HSUS representative at the forum was the only person who was smiling throughout the two days of presentations and discussions.