Already, there is a bill introduced in the District of Columbia that would require eggs produced in cages to have to bear such a label, says United Egg Producers vice president Gene Gregory.
In what would be the first law of its kind, the District of Columbia’s Council is considering a bill that would require retailers to hang signs with black letters at least one inch high that says the “eggs may be from caged hens.” The Council is the legislative body for the District, so if the measure passes, it will apply to all eggs sold within D.C.
“It’s not a radical proposal. It’s not an eccentric proposal,” council member Jim Graham, who introduced the measure, says in The Washington Post. “This is about animal cruelty. This is not just about chickens.”
The bill is opposed by the supermarket industry as well as the egg industry. “We see it as a government mandated marketing program,” Erik Lieberman, director of government affairs for the National Grocers Association, says in the article. “We don’t need a city mandating that signs go up in every grocery store.”
The Humane Society of the United States, meanwhile, welcomes the bill as a step forward, saying it protects consumers who are concerned about animal cruelty. Within the District, American University, George Washington University, Gallaudet University, and Georgetown University and its law school have switched to cage-free eggs.
On another front, a petition filed by Compassion Over Killing and the Penn Law Animal Law Project—a student effort— calls on the FDA to mandate full disclosure of production methods for eggs sold within the United States. Federal oversight is needed, the petition says, to protect consumers from an array of false and misleading claims found on egg cartons. The groups contend that phrases such as “animal friendly” as well as images of happy hens roaming around the outside can be used indiscriminately on egg cartons, even when those eggs are produced by birds confined inside wire battery cages.