Like many here in the Western North Carolina region, I’m an animal lover and do my part to advocate on their behalf. I do my best to shop ethically and am deeply saddened to learn about how Publix tortures hens.
Recently a Publix customer delivered a petition with more than 110,000 signatures to the company’s headquarters, urging them to sell only cage-free eggs. I was surprised to learn that Publix, the seventh-largest food retailer in the United States, is the only one in the top 15 not committed to going cage-free. Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, Giant, and almost all other major grocers have committed to phasing out the cruel practice of caging egg-laying hens.
On egg factory farms supplying Publix, hens are crammed into cages the size of a file drawer. They are unable to spread their wings or move around freely, and they are denied all behaviors that come naturally to them, including perching and nesting. This is nothing short of animal abuse. So why is Publix still allowing its egg suppliers to use this barbaric practice?
I hope that others will join in putting pressure on Publix by boycotting them until they commit to going 100 percent cage-free. For more information on the campaign and to sign the petition, you can visit: http://publix.henhell.com/
— Michelle Neff
Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Kim Reynolds, media and community relations manager at Publix, who had this response to the points raised in Ms. Neff’s letter:
“At Publix, we are committed to providing our customers with a premier shopping experience, which includes a wide selection of quality products, friendly and helpful service and superior value. We understand that there are customers who want the food industry and all retailers, including Publix, to offer only 100 percent cage-free shell eggs as soon as possible.
“We understand that eggs are an affordable way for families to incorporate protein into their diets and that many of these families are interested in the source of their food. We are aware that some customers prefer cage-free eggs, and for these customers we currently offer the following specialty cage-free egg options: Publix GreenWise, Eggland’s Best, 4 Grain, Country Hen, Handsome Brook Farm and Pete & Gerry’s. We will continue to work to provide an assortment of eggs and allocate even more shelf space to cage-free options as our customers purchase more cage-free eggs.
“Because we take concerns about animal welfare seriously, we have been diligently working with our egg suppliers, industry leaders, governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations to better understand the feasibility of converting our shell egg supply to completely cage-free while meeting customer demand, remaining affordable, and maintaining animal health and safety.
“In addition to animal welfare concerns, there are several other factors to consider: the higher costs and retail price associated with cage-free eggs, the speed of this industry change, current WIC regulations preventing the purchase of cage-free eggs and the potential inability of smaller farmers to make the large necessary investments causing them to go out of business.
“We understand the high standards expected of us and will continue to work to provide our customers with quality products and a variety of choices, while ensuring food safety and animal welfare. For instance, soon we will be introducing a Grade A Large cage-free egg called Sunups in the majority of our stores that will be less expensive than some of the cage-free eggs offered today. Once again, we are confident that our customers will lead us to the right product assortment with their purchases.
“We appreciate the trust our customers place in us to do the right thing and we work hard to live up to that responsibility. We are committed to moving forward with this effort.”