Following a welfare investigation of a Maine farm and refusal of deliveries by supermarket chains, the chief executive officer of Radlo Foods said they will stop using cage confinement systems.
On April 1 the Maine Department of Agriculture, together with a representative of the State Animal Welfare Department entered an in-line egg production complex in Turner, Maine.
The farm, owned by Quality Egg of New England LLC, is one of eight similar units formerly owned and operated by companies under the control of Austin “Jack” DeCoster who established the complex of approximately 4 million hens during the mid-1960s.
During the 1990s the operation was subjected to penalties imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and a multi-million dollar settlement of an action brought by employees and was reorganized in 1997 as an LLC.
The present problem arises from an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals who placed an agent in the farm as an employee of Maine Contract Farms LLC, responsible for flock management. Allegations including neglect of flocks and mishandling are currently under investigation by state authorities and if substantiated will be referred to the Franklin County District Attorney. The farm was leased from Quality Egg LLC by Radlo Foods to produce branded eggs.
Faced with adverse publicity, a number of supermarket chains in the state and region refused deliveries of eggs from the complex. A national company that had franchised Radlo Foods, initiated an immediate investigation of the allegations. The franchisee revoked the agreement with Radlo Foods on grounds Radlo "was working with a farm that is not in compliance with the strict animal welfare standards required." Radlo Foods in turn is withdrawing from the operation in Maine.
On April 6, David Radlo, CEO of Radlo Foods, announced "we are proud to officially pledge to stop using cage confinement systems and implement a plan to become an exclusively cage-free company within ten years."