In a recent debate entitled “Cage-Free versus Conventional Eggs,” Professor Joe Regenstein of the Cornell University Department of Food Science faced Josh Balk, outreach director of the Humane Society of the United States. The event was held in front of an audience of students and faculty comprising the academic community of the Ivy. The debate was sponsored by the Students’ Assemblies Dining Committee and comprised a 10-minute presentation followed by discussion and interchanges.
Balk presented a video documenting five farms with cages “that were not well maintained but remained approved by the United Egg Producers.” The opponent of cage systems also invoked the alleged higher prevalence rate of salmonella infection in caged hens compared to floor housing.
Gail Finan, director of Cornell Dining, noted that the university had recently switched back to conventional from cage-free based on the significant expense. She added that students have not shown much interest in the issue. Other concerns such as local foods and cost were more important factors than housing of hens in purchase decisions.