Several egg producers have responded with identical comments against a petition filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Compassion over Killing (COK) that would change how eggs are labeled.

The petition asks FDA to implement labeling rules to tell consumers about the conditions under which eggs are produced, including whether or not the hens are caged. The petition requests labeling for eggs from free range, cage-free but kept within barns, and caged hens.

The egg producer letters, the most recent of which is from Feather Crest Farms of Kurten, Texas, say that “COK would have FDA convey to consumers that there is something bad about eggs produced from hens in cages,” according to an article in Food Chemical News. “Cage production is the accepted norm in modern commercial egg production. Approximately 98% of all eggs marketed in the U.S. and 90% of the world’s egg production is produced in caged housing.”

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The letters continue that “the additional regulation proposed by COK is unnecessary and has no legal basis. Eggs produced from other than caged housing are always labeled with the type of production to justify a premium price to those consumers that desire and can afford the more expensive eggs…The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act mandates that FDA require that products are safe, wholesome, sanitary and properly labeled. It does not provide authority to require a statement of how animals are raised.”

The farmers continue that “nutritionally, the eggs from different types of production are the same and eggs from hens raised in cages are as safe as or even safer than eggs produced by other methods.” The letters say that “some 83% of all egg laying hens in caged housing in the U.S. live in accord with strict science-based animal care guidelines that were recommended by independent experts in animal care.” They add that the COK petition is actually an attempt to “use FDA to advance [their] stated goal of converting consumers to a vegetarian lifestyle.”

COK identifies itself as an animal advocacy organization that focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian diets.