Wegmans Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

This is an unofficial blog and informational archive related to the WEGMANSCRUELTY film and resulting campaign.

Please see that page for more information.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wegman's Cruelty airs on DCTV in September

If you have not yet had a chance to watch the Compassionate Consumers' new documentary Wegman's Cruelty, it will air six times on Washington, DC, DCTV (Comcast channel 5) in September. This program documents the conditions at egg factories that supply Wegman's grocery stores.

Wegman's Cruelty
By Compassionate Consumers
Sun. Sept. 4 at 5 pm
Wed. Sept. 7 at 6:30 pm
Sun. Sept. 11 at 7:30 pm
Tues. Sept. 13 at 8 pm
Tues. Sept. 20 at 4 pm
Wed. Sept. 28 at 10:30 p

Monday, August 29, 2005

Farm Sanctuary Action Alerts & Updates

Grocery Chain Has
History of Apathy
Toward Animal Abuse
Original Alert 7/14/05
Update 7/25/05

Battery Caged Egg-Laying Hens:
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. owns stores throughout the northeastern United States and is headquartered in Rochester, NY. In 1995, Farm Sanctuary's President, Gene Bauston, politely appealed to Wegmans food chain to stop housing their egg-producing hens in cramped battery cages. Jo Natale, Consumer Services Manager, stated in a July 19, 1995 letter that "birds are perfectly happy in cages which allow 53 to 60 square inches of space per bird."

One decade later, this same Wegmans spokesperson continued to defend battery cages in a Rochester newspaper, saying "We feel good about our egg farm," and claimed the factory farm they own in Wolcott, NY is clean and humane. Ms. Natale also promised to prosecute an activist group, Compassionate Consumers, for recently videotaping and exposing the horrendous conditions at Wegmans' Wayne County farm. This footage revealed sick and dying birds in crowded cages and some trapped up to their necks in manure pits. Although plotting to press charges for trespassing, ironically, Wegmans denies that all the footage was taken at their egg facility. Update: Wegmans also exerted pressure, resulting in activist being fired from her job!

Attempting to placate the public, Wegmans claims on their website that it is in the hens' best interest that they cannot be free-range, "These birds are not scratching in a barnyard (that would be tough in snowy weather); they are fed and cared for inside chicken cages in environmentally controlled laying houses." Wegmans promotes their egg farm as being part of the United Egg Producer's 'Animal Care Certified program' which endorses battery cages that "allow enough space so hens can stand comfortably upright". However, the Better Business Bureau referred this case of misleading advertising to the Federal Trade Commission for potential legal action. The hard evidence also thoroughly convinced a self-proclaimed conservative skeptic: “I am disgusted by the falsehoods represented as the Truth and boasted by Wegmans with the certification stickers and emblems that so impressively adorn their various egg packages.”

Update: Wegmans has been sending a form response to activists who contact their store: “…The truth is that outsiders broke into our egg farm and compromised the safety of our hens. What followed was a thorough investigation by the New York State Police Department and the Wayne County District Attorney's office, which concluded that there was no evidence of animal abuse. We have serious doubts as to whether all of the images in the 30-minute film recently released by the activists come from our farm. We are now discussing with law enforcement authorities possible charges against those who broke into the farm….” Farm Sanctuary contacted a Wayne County humane officer in October 2004 with evidence that we received on this case, in the form of a letter describing the hens’ conditions, a videotape exposing the horrendous conditions, and veterinarian necropsy reports. This officer then sent the evidence to District Attorney Richard Healy. Unfortunately, the humane officer reported back to Farm Sanctuary in November that the D.A. was reluctant to prosecute Wegmans since he felt the conditions depicted on the evidence sent to him represented an isolated case! Farm Sanctuary then urged the D.A. to obtain a search warrant to make an unannounced visit to the facility. Regarding the “thorough investigation by the NYSPD that Wegmans claims happened, this also included questioning Farm Sanctuary staff. After making a polite call to the United Egg Producers with a few questions about their Animal Care Certified label, a New York State criminal investigator came to Farm Sanctuary, asking if we had any connection to a Farm Sanctuary member in upstate New York who simply wrote a letter to the editor against the use of battery cages for egg laying hens.

What You Can Do
Please contact Wegmans to complain about their cruel egg facility which they falsely promote as humane and ask them to stop selling veal from crated and tethered calves. For more information on these cruel industry practices, visit FactoryFarming.com

Jo Natale
Wegmans Consumer Affairs
1500 Brooks Avenue
PO Box 30844
Rochester, NY 14603-0844
1-800-WEGMANS ext. 4760
Their online contact form: http://www.wegmans.com/guest/index.asp

Activists: Try some great egg-less recipes and explore vegan egg substitutes by visiting VegForLife.org - share with friends and family.

Students: Ask your school, college or university to not use eggs in their dining facilities that are from caged hens.

"Progressive Films" now sells
Wegmans Cruelty
(although at an outrageous price!)

Progressive Films distributes films and videos, both narrative and documentary, which offer a progressive perspective, promote human rights and are created to advance social justice, multiracial equality and cross cultural understanding.

A Perfectly Well-Rehearsed Lie

Animal Writings: Essays and Musings on Animals and Society

Here's another great letter by United Poultry Concerns president Karen Davis, PhD, in which she solidly refutes the outrageous contention by Wegmans' egg farm veterinarian Dr. Benjamin Lucio-Martinez that hens do "perfectly well" in the tiny wire cages that Wegmans provides for them as a life-long home.

"[Biologist Marian Stamp] Dawkins explains that if hens kept all their lives on wire floors are suddenly given access to a floor of wood-shavings or peat, they have 'an immediate and strong preference for these more natural floors over the wire ones. ... They dustbathe, eat particles of peat and scratch with their feet. It is not just the extra comfort afforded by a soft floor that attracts them, but all the behavior they can do there as well.'

By contrast, when hens are forced to stand and sit on wire mesh, their feet can become sore, cracked and deformed. The hen's claws, which are designed to scratch vigorously, and thus stay short and blunt, become long, thin, twisted and broken. They can curl around the wire floor and entrap the hen, causing her to starve to death inches from her food and water.

The overriding issue is that hens are birds with behavior patterns that have no outlet in a cage. And it isn't just animal advocates who point this out.

Concerning battery cages for hens, Dr. Lesley Rogers writes in her book, The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken: 'In no way can these living conditions meet the demands of a complex nervous system designed to form a multitude of memories and to make complex decisions.'"

Battery caged hens are turned into living and dying statues, unable to take three steps in any direction. They're permanently trapped in tiny wire containers. They're denied the chance to walk around, explore, forage, socialize, or clean themselves, which they would do immediately and every day if given the chance. They have no stimulation, no variety, no opportunity to make decisions. Hens are intelligent, curious, social, adpative, and emotional animals. Sensory deprivation is a slow, erosive torture.

What sort of person could look at these pitiful creatures and claim they're doing "perfectly well?" An unfeeling brute. A delusional sadist. Or a liar. Hens can't even stand up straight in a battery cage. They can't lift one wing. Would you do "perfectly well" sitting in the middle seat of a DC-10 your entire life? I'd love to have Dr. Lucio look directly at a half-feathered, blistered, tired, feces-covered hen who's forced to sleep next to a rotting corpse, hook him up to a lie detector, and ask him if this hen is doing "perfectly well." No matter how he answers, he incriminates himself.

CEO Danny Wegman recently announced, "Last year, we were determined the best company to work for in America. Basically, the chickens are working for us. So, we're going to make sure they're well treated one way or the other. If there's a way to do better, we'll do it."

I'll overlook the fact that the hens never applied for a job at Wegmans, and assume that there's a grain of truth to Mr. Wegman's pledge to treat the hens better. Credit for this public consideration of hen welfare improvements must be given to Compassionate Consumers, which exposed the horrid conditions and suffering inside the Wegmans egg farm. Two suggestions for Wegmans if they're serious:

  1. Get rid of those stinking battery cages.

  2. Hire a more honest and more observant veterinarian.
Related Link:

Wegman's Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

Related post:

Eggregious Lies from Wegmans

Friday, August 26, 2005

More Proof of Cruelty:

A Short Clip and Website

Document Animal Cruelty

at Wegmans Egg Farm, NY

The Group for the Education of Animal - Related Issues

There's nothing like proof when speaking of issues involving cruelty. Below you will see a link to a 2 minute trailer from the 30 minute film “Wegmans Cruelty” which shows suffering, neglect, and death in Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott, NY. Leaving dead birds to rot in cages along side alive ones is common practice. You would think they could at least stop doing this (imagine the smell of being cramped into a cage with rotting humans - graphic, but true). The factory egg facility is owned by Wegmans grocery store and contains over 750,000 hens. Thanks to technology we once again see the truth that goes on behind the scenes where the company and workers think they are not being watched. Please read on....
"Agriculture isn’t about food anymore.
It’s about new markets, new technologies ...and new risks.

The agriculture sector is going through technological upgrades at an unprecedented rate. Farms are becoming mini-industrial sectors, rather than simply a place to grow food…

  • Dairy herds are becoming completely automated
  • Manure and other waste products are being used to generate electricity
  • Corn is being converted to automotive fuel, rather than food

With agriculture becoming one of the new frontiers in technology, how long will it be until activists stop thinking 'quaint family farm' and start thinking 'nasty chemical/power plant?'

In many ways, it’s already started. Consider activist attacks like “The Meatrix” [or "Wegmans Cruelty"] or terminology like “factory farms” and “frankenfoods.”

Are you ready to be considered a corporate villain? Have you been complacently relying on adopted public trust and credibility? Step back and take a look – because that’s all about to change.

We can help. Something as simple as a communications audit or “Defending Good Science in Tough Times” training can make a positive difference for your organization.

Start building trust and credibility before the attacks come rolling in. Sign up for our “Defending Good Science” newsletter, but better yet, call us – we’d be happy to give you a ‘no b-s, straight-up opinion’ regarding your situation."

Monday, August 22, 2005


Danny Wegman, CEO of Wegmans Food Markets -- Fortune Magazine's #1 Company to Work For in America -- recently said on TV news about his company's factory egg farm, "If there's a way to do better, we'll do it ." Please contact Mr. Wegman and ask him to do just that: ask that Wegmans phase out the use of battery cages at its egg facility. Ask that Wegmans follow the lead of Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Earth Fare who this year chose to stop supporting the use of cruel battery cages and now only sell eggs from hens raised in cage-free conditions.

Wegman's remarks come following the release of a documentary investigation entitled "Wegmans Cruelty" that revealed egregious cruelty to animals at the company's Wolcott, NY factory egg farm. The documentary shows up to 9 chickens crowded into filing-cabinet sized cages. Chickens were also found with their heads caught in the wire mesh of their cages, submerged in manure pits, and living in cages with feces and rotting corpses . The farm houses over 750,000 hens, and is part of the "Animal Care Certified" program, which the Better Business Bureau has discredited as "misleading."

Mr. Wegman has had the investigators who exposed these inhumane conditions charged with burglary. Ask that these charges be dropped. These investigators have done a valuable service in revealing these conditions to the public and provided Wegmans with a new opportunity to, as their motto says, "give their best" to consumers.

Contact Wegmans at 1-800-WEGMANS or write to them at:

Danny Wegman, CEO
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

1500 Brooks Avenue

PO Box 30844

Rochester, NY 14603-0844


You can also use their online contact form.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Wegmans is "Un-American about animals"

By Peter Singer August 20, 2005 Boston Glob

WHAT COUNTRY has the most advanced animal protection legislation in the world? If you guessed the United States, go to the bottom of the class. The United States lags far behind all 25 nations of the European Union, and most other developed nations as well, such as Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. To gauge just how far behind the United States is, consider these three facts:

Around 10 billion farm animals are killed every year by US meat, egg, and dairy industries; the estimated number of animals killed for research every year is 20 million to 30 million, a mere 0.3 of that number.

In the United States, there is no federal law governing the welfare of animals on the farm. Federal law begins only at the slaughterhouse.

Most states with major animal industries have written into their anticruelty laws exemptions for ''common farming practices." If something is a common farming practice, it is, according to these states, not cruel, and you can't prosecute anyone for doing it.

Together these last two points mean that any common farming practice is legal. If you hear farm industry lobbyists trying to tell you that there is no problem in the United States because unhappy animals would not be productive, ask them how it can be good for a hen to be kept with four or five other hens in a cage so small she couldn't stretch her wings even if she had the whole cage to herself.

To measure how far ahead other countries are, we can first look at British animal protection legislation. British law makes it illegal to keep breeding sows in crates that prevent them from walking or turning around -- the way in which about four out of every five US sows are kept. In Britain, law does not allow veal calves to be denied adequate roughage and iron, as is common in the United States to help produce the gourmet veal often served in restaurants.

Nevertheless, it is not Britain but Austria that has the most advanced animal protection legislation. In May 2004, a proposed law banning the chicken ''battery cage" was put to a vote in the Austrian Parliament. It passed -- without a single member of Parliament opposing it. Austria has banned fur farming and prohibited the use of wild animals in circuses. It has also made it illegal to trade in living cats and dogs in stores and deems killing an animal for no good reason a criminal offense. Most important, every Austrian province must appoint an ''animal lawyer" who can initiate court procedures on behalf of animals.

Why are Europeans so far ahead of Americans in protecting animal welfare? I doubt that it is because Americans are more tolerant of cruelty. In 2002, when the citizens of Florida were given a chance to vote on whether sows should be confined for months without ever having room to turn around, they voted, by a clear majority, to ban sow crates. Most Americans, though, have never had the chance to cast that vote. The animal movement in the United States has not succeeded in turning animal rights into electoral issues about which voters seek their candidates' views.

As a result, the American animal movement has shifted toward targeting corporations rather than the legislatures. For example, in 2001, the organization Viva! launched a campaign accusing Whole Foods of selling inhumanely raised duck meat. Whole Foods responded by exploring the issue and setting new companywide standards for raising ducks.

Other sets of standards will follow by 2008, Whole Foods plans to have in place a set of standards for all the species of farm animals it sells. By addressing an individual corporation, animal rights activists are hoping that other retailers will follow suit and this pressure will influence legislation changes in the United States.

Judged by the standards of other developed countries, over recent decades the United States has done little to improve the protection of the vast majority of animals. We should direct our energies to reducing the suffering of farm animals and put pressure on our corporations and our legislatures, both state and federal, to bring the United States at least up to the standards of the European Union in our treatment of animals.

Peter Singer's most recent book is ''In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave."

Friday, August 19, 2005

"Keep chickens out of wire-floored cages"

(August 19, 2005, Democrat and Chronicle) — In response to the article "Chicken-cruelty charge and video rebuffed by execs, others," (Democrat and Chronicle, July 2): egg industry people often claim that hens don't mind living and laying their eggs in wire cages, but this claim has more to do with assuaging the public than setting the record straight. In reality, ample science shows why chickens do not do "perfectly well'' in cages.

Chickens' feet and legs contain complex joints including many small bones, ligaments, cartilage pads, tendons and muscles that enable them to search and scratch for food on land. Wild chickens (the Red Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia, from which all chickens derive) and feral chickens (domesticated chickens that revert to living free) spend half to 90 percent of their time foraging, making up to 15,000 pecks a day.

But it isn't just wild and feral chickens. As biologist Marian Stamp Dawkins writes in her book Through Our Eyes Only?: "An ancestral memory of this way of life seems to have carried down the generations into the cages of our modern intensive farms so that even highly domesticated breeds have the same drive to scratch away to get their food.''

Based on experiments, Dawkins explains that if hens kept all their lives on wire floors are suddenly given access to a floor of wood-shavings or peat, they have "an immediate and strong preference for these more natural floors over the wire ones. ... They dustbathe, eat particles of peat and scratch with their feet. It is not just the extra comfort afforded by a soft floor that attracts them, but all the behavior they can do there as well.''

By contrast, when hens are forced to stand and sit on wire mesh, their feet can become sore, cracked and deformed. The hen's claws, which are designed to scratch vigorously, and thus stay short and blunt, become long, thin, twisted and broken. They can curl around the wire floor and entrap the hen, causing her to starve to death inches from her food and water.

The overriding issue is that hens are birds with behavior patterns that have no outlet in a cage. And it isn't just animal advocates who point this out.
Concerning battery cages for hens, Dr. Lesley Rogers writes in her book, The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken: "In no way can these living conditions meet the demands of a complex nervous system designed to form a multitude of memories and to make complex decisions."

Chickens need to be cage-free.

Davis is the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, based in Machipongo, Va.
Public Screening of "Wegmans Cruelty" Film

Baltimore Animal R ights Coalition (BARC)

There will be a show at Red Emma's, the radical infoshop at St. Paul and Madison Streets (http://www.redemmas.org) on Saturday August 20, and the musicians have kindly agreed to have the proceeds go to BARC! There will be a mix of Riot Folk musicians ( http://www.riotfolk.org) and punk rock. There will be screening of the 27 minute film Wegmans Cruelty at 7pm, followed by the show. There is no cover; there is a suggested $3-5 donation.
For more information about the campaign against Wegmans, visit http://www.WegmansCruelty.com. Wegmans plans to open a location in Hunt Valley, MD and proceeds from this show will help BARC in their campaign against this corporation.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Earth Fare’s “Free Bird” Initiative receives recognition from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Earth Fare will no longer sell eggs from caged birds in any of its 12 stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Earth Fare has joined the growing list of grocery stores and universities that have pledged never to purchase eggs from caged hens. “Because of our commitment to corporate responsibility and the humane treatment of animals, Earth Fare is proud to have a policy against the sale of eggs from caged birds,” states Earth Fare President Mike Cianciarulo.

According to The HSUS Factory Farming Campaign Manager Paul Shapiro, “Battery-caged hens are among the most abused animals in all of agribusiness. Earth Fare has taken a positive step to help reduce animal suffering by pledging never to purchase eggs from caged hens, and we commend their efforts and encourage other grocers to follow suit.”

Several universities have also jumped on board against this practice, including George Washington University, Marist College, Vassar College, University of Arizona, University of Connecticut, American University, and University of Rochester.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Animal Cruelty?
Ithaca Times / IthacaTimes.com
By: M. Tye Wolfe

A group of activists has caused a potential public relations problem for the privately owned Rochester-based food giant Wegmans, which has a popular store in Ithaca.

Members of Compassionate Consumers, also based in Rochester, have been distributing a DVD that they say contains footage from Wegmans' egg farm, which houses 750,000 hens.

The group claims that the living conditions of the hens in the egg farm are inhumane, and use graphic, disturbing footage to substantiate their claims.

Recently, two of the people who went to the farm were given felony burglarly charges. On Aug. 5, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Adam Durand, 25, and Melanie Ippolito, 21, face up to seven years in prison.

In addition to filming the conditions of the farm, the activists removed several hens they believed to be on the brink of death.

Spokepersons for Compassionate Consumer and Wegmans could not be reached by press time. However, on its Web site, Wegmans says the farm conforms to "extremely high standards" and that the activists "compromised our biosecurity measures and put the health and safety of our hens at risk."

Wegmans says that investigations conducted by police and the Wayne County District Attorney determined "there was no evidence of animal abuse at our farm." Wegmans also says that a Cornell University veterinarian was interviewed as part of the investigation.

Wegmans also claims it has "serious doubts" as to whether the footage and images in this film come from its farm. "Moral reasons aside, why would we harm the very animals we rely upon for eggs?" Wegmans does not explain why, if the footage does not come from the farm, the activists have been subject to arrest.

The DVD, entitled "Wegmans Cruelty" has high production values and is slightly less than one half-hour in length. It begins with a brief history of Wegmans before showing footage that ostensibly came from a nighttime visit to the egg farm.

In the video, chickens are shown packed, sometimes nine at at time, into small cages, unable to spread their wings. Many look sickly. Some of the hens are covered in excrement from the hens in the cages above them. Hens are also shown occupying cages that contain petrified chicken corpses. The activists are shown prying the calcified bodies from the cages with gloved hands. Underneath the cages, there is footage of a hen corpse covered in beetles. Another hen apparently fell into the manure pit, and was shown gasping for breath as most of its body was submerged in liquid excrement. That hen later died, according to activists.

Several of the hens appear to have malformed beaks. Activists claim this stems from a common practice that involves burning off the tips of beaks when hens are chicks. This keeps the hens from killing one another while being stuck together in such close conditions. Recently, under pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, McDonalds Corp. demanded that all its chicken providers refrain from this practice.

The video also juxtaposes the comments of Jo Natale, who claims the hens are well treated and attended by a veterinarian, with the footage of the suffering birds.

It is difficult to assess how the video, and Wegmans' reaction to it, is playing locally. Ithaca activist Diana Goodrich has been distributing copies of the documentary using the e-mail contact info@ithacvoices.org.

"I want everyone to see this documentary because people have a right to know how their food is produced, and I don't believe any of Wegmans' customers would willingly support the abuse and neglect of hens under Wegmans' care," Goodrich says.

M. Tye Wolfe

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS)

Urge Wegman's to Stop Torturing Chickens for Profit!

It was recently discovered that Wegman's, a popular grocery store chain, has been keeping its chickens raised for eggs in particularly deplorable conditions. . .
I support the WEgman's Activists and won't shop @ Wegman's no more!

Reply to: anon-89851583@craigslist.org

Date: 2005-08-09, 12:34AM EDT

Girls, I support the activists that expoised Wegmans of their evality!! I won't shop at Wegmans babykiller stores no more! I want fresh and clean eggs. Not eggs that have had their beeks cut off and living in their own poopies. I aint gonna do it! Don't shop at Wegmans b/c of waht the activists said. They are heros!! Wegmaans are criminals, according to the activists!! I hate Wegmans!!!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Chickenshit Redoux

I must respectfully disagree with "again and again". I think this is quite an interesting subject, and I plan on discussing it ad infinitum.

I spent some time this weekend downloading and watching the Chicken Crusaders' video and reading every word on their website (http://wegmanscruelty.com). I came away with three impressions:

1. These are some well-organized, brave and smart people. Anyone who is trying to advance a cause or agenda would do well to take a good look at their site and use it as a model. Whether you agree or disagree with them, they deserve respect. Four Rochester residents have worked hard and taken serious personal risk to speak out about what they view as an injustice. They've accomplished a lot with very limited resources. Anyone who whines about Rochester and how nothing happens here can take this as an object lesson on how some of your neighbors spend their time working hard to make the world a better place.

2. Wegmans was caught out fair and square. A lot of their claims, both on their website and those made by their PR flack, are false. Wegmans owes their customers a solid, verifiable plan to bring their egg operation up to their own (low) standard. Wegmans has lost some of my trust, and from now on I will look at their food safety claims with heightened skepticism. In business terms, this means that I will be reluctant to pay extra for Wegmans-branded "especially good" products like "Angus Beef", and I'll also mistrust the Wegmans store brand. Wegmans response to-date, which is essentially stonewalling, isn't the behavior I'd expect from a Forbes #1 company.

3. The Chicken Crusaders need to broaden their focus to interest the average egg eater. The main focus of their video, and the materials on their site, is how cruelly the chickens are treated at the egg farm. But there's a lot more that should upset the carnivores among us.

Here's some of the alleged cruelty: Baby chicks have the tips of their beaks trimmed off so they won't peck out they eyes of other chickens when they grow up. Hens are packed tightly into cages and their shit falls on the chickens below them. Some hens get tangled up in those cages and sometimes starve to death.

At the end of their movie, a montage of chicken abuse pictures are shown while a folk singer drones on. At the end of this montage, a few of the chickens rescued by the Crusaders are shown pecking around in a field of grass. Immediately before the montage, a Humane Society representative claims that the only humane way to raise chickens is "free range".

Frankly, I could care less about the fate of the chickens. I'm sorry, but the term "dumb cluck" didn't get coined out of thin air. I don't think that we owe chickens a "free range" lifestyle, and I think the average egg consumer agrees.

The Crusaders were so focused on the cruelty angle that they forgot to mention a number of good reasons why every consumer of eggs should be pissed that Wegmans' farm is considered a "model operation".

Lets begin with the chickens shitting on other chickens. The Crusaders seem upset about this because the chickens are losing some essential dignity by being shat upon. Not true - they have no dignity in the first place, because they are goddamn chickens.

The second "horrible" thing that was happening in the egg barn was that the carcasses of dead chickens were left to decay along with the live chickens A lot of these carcasses were caused by chickens getting tangled up in the wire of their cages. Again, the Crusaders concentrated on how "gross" this was and how terrible it was that the living chickens had to spend time with dead chickens. I didn't see any mourning chickens in the video, so I'm not worried about their grieving process.

Finally, the Crusaders were offended that the chickens were packed together so tightly. Again, the basis for offense was how uncomfortable this made the hens, and, again, I don't really give a shit if they're comfortable, as long as they're grunting out a nice, white, Grade AA oueves.

In each of these cases (shit, dead chickens, and tight packing), my real concern is the health ramifications of the confinement operation. By letting the chickens live in filth, by letting dead chickens rot in cages with the live chickens, and by packing them so tightly, the Wegmans' egg farm has introduced the risk of disease. To counteract this risk, they dose the chickens with antibiotics. It is no coincidence that confinement farming is a late 20th century innovation, because it would be impossible to accomplish without high doses of antibiotics. By introducing huge amounts of antibiotics into the ecosystem, these confinement farms are hastening the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. And that has a direct impact on me, because the number of effective antibiotics has grown smaller over the past few years. This is a real, serious issue that wasn't even mentioned by the Crusaders. When I get an infection, I want the antibiotic to work, and the filth of these egg confinement operations is endangering my life, and the lives of you and your children, in ways that are non-obvious but real.

The second issue with the filth of confinement farming is the possiblity that the eggs will be dirty. In the past few years, we've been taught to treat a fresh egg like a radioactive isotope or armed bomb. I remember when Caesar Salad dressing contained -gasp- raw eggs! Inconceivable as this is today, people regularly consumed raw eggs in previous generations without dropping dead. I've got to believe that the filth of the confinement farm has something to do with the food safety issues we're facing today.

So, I'm with the Crusaders: Wegmans needs to clean up. They need to stop letting chickens shit on other chickens, they must remove dead chickens quickly, and they need to move out the chickenshit more often. But I come to this conclusion because confinement farming is a direct risk to me and my family, not because of some romantic views about the rights of chickens.

The Crusaders have done a great thing by exposing Wegmans' egg operation as a dirty hellhole. Now they need to find common ground with non-Vegan, reasonable people who are upset with the risks that confinement farming poses to our health.

posted by Rottenchester at 7:13 PM
Baltimore Animal Rights Coalition (BARC)

BARC will be launching a major campaign against a new Wegmans grocery store location in Hunt Valley, MD. Check back here on August 22, 2005 for more information. In the meantime, check out http://www.WegmansCruelty.com
"Angie's Story" posted at Shane Garton's Capra 7 Art Studio

Shane is a Contemporary Australian Abstract Artist who works in Abstract Expressionist Art: Paintings and Digital Camera/Photography, Drawing and Computer Art
Oh my Gosh - WEGMANS has cruelty to animals??

That is the only place I will do my grocery shopping - I haven't seen the video yet, but please say it isn't soooo. There are only a few Wegmans - Where will I goooooo??!!!?!?
Next Monthly Meeting: Wegmans' Chicken Farm

Join the Green Party of Monroe County for our next monthly meeting. Our guest speakers will be Adam Durand and Jodi Chemes of Compassionate Consumers.

Durand and Chemes will be discussing the video, Wegmans Cruelty about the condition of Wegman's Chicken Farm in Wayne County. You can download the movie here.

The meeting will be Monday, September 12th at 7pm at 179 Atlantic Avenue. As usual, the meeting is free and open to the public.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Toxic Rochester
Stuff Seen Roaming In (And Around) Smugtown
July 17, 2005

Chicken Holocaust

I like chicken and I like eggs. And I have no intention to stop eating either one of them, even after seeing the Wegmans Cruelty video. I don't believe that chickens (or any animal) have any right other than to be on my plate with a nice wine sauce. But that doesn't mean I think they should be treated like the video shows Wegmans is treating their chickens. And that's not out of any great concern for the chickens, but rather because I don't desire to eat eggs farmed in such a dirty, disgusting environment.

Wegmans proudly claims they meet "industry standards" for humane treatment of their chickens. If so, then we should all be horrified. Not only for the chickens, but the Wegmans employees who have to work at this farm. I sure hope they good get health insurance-- they're going to need it.

In the video, they show an aerial image of the egg farm. It's in Wolcott, and it's huge (not surprising for holding 700,000 chickens). So I loaded Google Earth and spun the globe around 40 miles East of Rochester. And there it was, and very easy to spot because it's huge.

Sunday rolls around and my partner and I are bored, looking for something to do. I jokingly suggest we go out to the Wegmans egg farm, and to my surprise, he said sure. So we hop in the car, turn on the GPS unit, and start heading East for latitude 43.24947, longitude -76.79045.

Along the way, we're getting closer to a white pickup truck weaving around traffic ahead of us. We eventually catch up to it and then we see the logo on the side: Wegmans Security. I bet that he's going to the same place we are, but when we got to Wolcott, he veers off.

We didn't have a route programmed in the GPS unit, only the latitude and longitude. So we're trying to find roads that get us closer. And finally... there it is! And look-- it's the white pickup truck; he must have known a more direct way there.

Oh, it's huge. The first thing we saw was the massive silos that we assume are holding feed for the chickens. And the second thing we notice as we get closer is a whiff of something unpleasant that's getting stronger.

Due to a stupid error on my part, there are no more pictures to show you of the facility. We didn't get out and roam around, in part because Wegmans has signs all over the place that trespassers will be prosecuted. But we did drive by, enjoy a whiff of the "industry standard" conditions the chickens are raised in, and start our drive back to Rochester.

It was getting close to dinner time and we were both hungry. So to end our trip with a bit of irony, when we got to Panorama we stopped at Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits and got some of their spicy chicken.
Wegman Responds to Egg Farm Claims

by Anthony Pascale and J. Mendoza
photo by Bryan Beard
Rochester R-News

Published Aug 13, 2005

The president of the Wegmans grocery chain responded to allegations that his company mistreats chickens at the Wayne County egg farm.

A group of animal rights activists admits to entering the Wolcott Egg Farm last August to shoot video for a documentary.

They claim the video shows sick and dying chickens crowded into cages. Wegman responded to those allegations.

Last year, we were determined the best company to work for in America. Basically, the chickens are working for us. So, we're going to make sure they're well treated one way or the other. If there's a way to do better, we'll do it. Right now, we think we're doing pretty darn well, but we're always looking to do better,” said Wegman.

Three people face charges for breaking into the egg farm. If convicted they could spend seven years in prison.
"Support Wegmans: Buy More Eggs"
Rochester Watch Forum

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wegman's Cruelty - Are You a Part of This?????

Virgil Butler's "The Cyber Activist" blog

This particular story caught my attention recently, and I was going to write about it after watching the DVD they sent me, but I decided to wait and save it for this event so that more people would see it.

If you have a fast connection, unlike I do, instead of ordering the DVD, you can download this video for free here. You can also read an article about the situation here.

What I saw on that video was pitiful, yet it wasn't anything surprising. I have seen things like that many, many times. The worst part about this is that the brave and compassionate ativists who went in there, documented the abuse and rescued hens needing care, have now been arrested. These activists are friends of a friend I found out only yesterday.

They are a part of a group called Compassionate Consumers. This group does wonderful things to raise awareness, like this latest documentation and rescue. It really takes a lot of courage and dedication to go into a place like that and pull it off, much less get the information out to the public once you have been successful.

The conditions at this farm were horrendous. What these activists went through to recue hens - one caught in a manure pit crawling with beetles that she gamely waded into - was really something, and I have a lot of respect for them. If you want to read the activists' firsthand accounts of how they did this and what they saw, including pictures, go here.

What I really want to stress here is that this situation is not an isolated incident nor is it abnormal. This is where eggs come from, and if you eat them, this is what you are supporting.

Cruelty. Misery. Suffering. Death.

It's that simple.

It's just wrong. Go ahead and check it out and see if you don't agree.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Protests at Pittsford Wegmans
8/6/2005 6:00 PM (Katrina Irwin, WROC-TV)

A group called "Compassionate Consumers" took their message to Wegmans today. They held a protest outside the Pittsford store because they say Wegmans doesn't treat their chickens properly.

The group produced a documentary which allegedly showed them breaking into the Wegmans egg farm in Wolcott to expose what they call poor conditions. Three of the group members have been charged with burglary in the 3rd degree.

Adam Durand says, "we don't have any regrets going in and exposing Wegmans for what the egg farm is really like. We were just fed up with the kind of statements Wegmans was giving to us and the general public.

"Wegmans spokesperson Jo Natale says, "there's no evidence of animal abuse", at the Wolcott egg farm. The egg farm is inspected by the USDA and the New York State Dep't of agriculture and markets a total of six times a year.

Wegmans also says they do offer organic cage free eggs, as an alternative for shoppers [who don't want to support animal abuse and a dishonest company?].

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Veg Blog

. . . So why did they target Wegmans? I imagine it's because Wegmans is one of the companies that, when approached with this information and footage, may actually do something. They've been named the best place to work by Fortune and are generally considered to be good to both their employees and customers. . . Let's just hope that they can extend their compassion and sense of fairness to their animals as well.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

(August 5, 2005) — An arrest warrant has been issued by the State Police for Megan Cosgrove, a one-time Rochester resident. She was one of three animal rights activists who last summer paid three unauthorized visits to the Wegmans Egg Farm, a 750,000-hen operation in Wolcott, Wayne County.

The out-of-state resident will surrender voluntarily early next week, said State Police Investigator Frank Daurizio.

Two other activists were arraigned this afternoon in Wolcott Town Court, posted cash bail of $1,000 each and were released on their own recognizance.

"It was an interesting experience, being arrested," said Adam Durand, 25, one of the activists. "Everyone was polite and we were, too."

The three activists are charged with third-degree burglary, a felony that carries a penalty of up to seven years in jail.

Appearing in court today were Durand, a packaging designer from Rochester, and Melanie Ippolito, 21, a massage therapy student, also from Rochester.

Durand, who videotaped the three visits, said he and the two others took nine injured hens from the Wadsworth Road facility, the largest egg farm in New York. Two died soon after.

He said they wore masks and latex gloves and entered at least three sheds at the facility in freshly laundered clothes, aware that confined flocks of birds are vulnerable to avian flu and other diseases brought from outside.

Wegmans Food Markets Inc. spokeswoman Jo Natale declined to comment on the impending arrests, and referred all questions to the State Police. "That will continue to be the case, now that this is a criminal matter," she said.

All three activists are members of a Rochester animal rights group called Compassionate Consumers. On July 3, the group released its video documentary of the visits, "Wegmans Cruelty."

Two thousand copies of the video have been downloaded from the Compassionate Consumers Web site, a process that takes at least two hours each time, said group spokeswoman Jodi Chemes. Another 1,100 have been sold or given away free, she said.

"It should be Wegmans being charged, not Mel and Adam," said Chemes, a Rochester tax accountant who claims she was fired from her job in July for her animal rights activism.

The 30-minute documentary intersperses graphic footage of injured and trapped hens with interviews with activists and stock footage of Wegmans officials.

Natale, recorded by Durand during a phone conversation last year, is an unwitting narrator in part of the film.

The video shows rows of stacked battery cages, each the size of a file drawer — a standard arrangement at the 200-plus large-scale U.S. egg farms. It also shows the activists taking dead birds from cages.

There will be mortality among so many hens — though at rates much lower than at farms where hens roam free and are vulnerable to predators, said Dr. Benjamin Lucio-Martinez.

The Cornell University veterinarian, not employed by Wegmans, inspects chickens at that company's farm every 8 or 10 weeks when they are shipped away for slaughter. He called the big facility "among the best in the country" for its treatment of the animals.

"I've seen this evolve," said Lucio-Martinez, a 50-year researcher and observer of egg operations. "You'd have to go back to the '30s for birds that are not in cages."

Activists say that housing birds in battery cages, now banned in Europe, and other egg industry practices are cruel — and that U.S. law should be revised to reflect that. In nature, Durand and others said, hens are social creatures used to open air, sunshine, dust baths and foraging for food.

The hens taken from the Wegmans farm are worth less than $1.50 each, said Chemes — making the charges more of an industry power play than a reflection of reality, she said.

"It would be preposterous to send us to prison for taking chickens," Durand said.

The activists said they anticipated legal action, and have never tried to hide their identities, acts or intentions in raiding the egg farm.

Ippolito and Durand both spoke Monday evening at the first public screening of "Wegmans Cruelty," in Brighton Town Hall, freely answering questions about their participation.

"We've been preparing for this for two years," Durand said later of the criminal charges. "When you carry out civil disobedience, you expect there will be penalties for it."

But the gravity of the charges came as a surprise, he said, expecting to pay a $75 fine for trespassing.

In legal parlance, trespassing is a "violation," and has the same weight as a parking ticket.

"We thought the D.A. in Wayne County didn't consider us dangerous criminals," Durand said of the county's district attorney, Richard Healy, who was on vacation this week and was unavailable for comment.

"This is not the crime of the century," said Healy in an interview last month. He added then that he had been in conversations with Wegmans officials on the matter, and asked them: "Do you really want a trial on this?"

Donald Thompson, the Rochester-based lawyer for the three activists, said there could be a trial. "That's the path we're starting down here."

Bail likely will be set and "is pretty standard in felony cases," said Investigator Daurizio.

At court today, Durand and Ippolito, Chemes said, "are bringing their checkbooks."


(August 5, 2005) — Arrest warrants were issued Thursday for two animal rights activists who last year broke into the Wegmans Egg Farm in Wayne County and this July released a graphic documentary of conditions at the 750,000-hen facility.

Both are members of the local group Compassionate Consumers and will be arraigned at noon today in Wolcott Town Court, according to their defense attorney, Donald Thompson of Rochester.

Charged with third-degree burglary, a felony, are Adam Durand, 25, and Melanie Ippolito, 21, both of Rochester.

They could face up to seven years in prison.

A third activist, Megan Cosgrove, was along on the nighttime visits last summer but is not being charged at this time. Cosgrove has moved from Rochester.

Wegmans Food Markets Inc. spokeswoman Jo Natale declined to comment.

State Police Investigator Frank Daurizio in Wayne County helped prepare the warrants and confirmed the charges.

During their visits, the activists took nine injured hens from the facility, which has been owned by Wegmans since 1967 and is the largest egg farm in New York.

Two of the nine died from their injuries, said Durand, a packaging designer.

He took the video footage during the visits and later produced "Wegmans Cruelty," which shows injured and trapped birds and corpses in cages.

"Wegmans contends that the treatment of these animals is within the boundaries of the law," said Thompson.

"Members of the public might think otherwise. (The video) paints a pretty clear picture of what's going on."

A trial is possible, he said.

There are more than 200 large-scale egg farms in the United States, according United Egg Producers, an industry group in Atlanta.

At least 90 percent of them, including the Wegmans operation, follow a voluntary care program that regulates cage size and standards for food, water and transportation, said spokesman Mitch Head.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wegmans Cruelty T-Shirts, here and here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Where Can I Download Wegmans Cruelty?

1. Internet Archive
2. Animal Liberation Page
4. WegmansCruelty.com

Internet Archive Reviewer: SuperTofu - 5 out of 5 stars - August 1, 2005

Best Food Animal Film Yet

This documentary produced by Compassionate Consumers is the best documentary I've seen released about food animal production. There is no pathetic, graphic, PETA, force-it-down-your-throat manipulation intended to make you change. Instead, this documentary is about Wegman's egg farming practices and the many things which us Wegman's customers didn't know about their eggs.

This is a professional quality video. I purchased the DVD from their WegmansCruelty.com website and it comes loaded with bonus features not found on the mpeg4 download. The DVD features page is very well done, much better than most DVDs from the major studios. The scenes are cut together well, the shots are crisp and colorful, and there is no scary slaughter footage(I won't watch those videos). The interviews were particularly well done, both in brevity and people interviewed.

They never stray from their point with this video. It is extremely well done.

"We are egg farmers who care about our hens. We are not factory farms."

However, if you look up Sharman Hickman's "Hickman's Eggs", you see what their "farms" look like. That sure ain't this. If that's not a factory, what is?
Expert Opinions

The United Egg Producers [and Wegmans] tries to defend its practices as scientifically sound, yet ignores credible, scientific research that suggests standard industry practices—including crowding birds into barren cages with no opportunity to nest, roost, dustbathe, or touch earth; starving birds to induce molt; and mutilating their beaks without painkiller—cause unnecessary suffering.

Compiled on this page are relevant quotes from expert scientists and veterinarians, as well as the Humane Society of the United States.


"Until recent years, our society overwhelmingly accepted that farmers predominately behaved with an acceptable level of integrity in how they cared for their animals, and showed little concern about how their food was being produced. . .

Misinformation has been intentionally or ignorantly presented in many media forms to a society which is largely urban and not well informed of the facts. . .

I have found in the many tours that I have given to persons without poultry backgrounds that the single most common comment involving negative perceptions that they have is the small amount of space that we give the chickens.

I observe 7-10 day beak trimming, and see little evidence that the bird suffers from the procedure. . .

I prefer to stay away from molting for image purposes, at least at this point. . .

Our company intends to lead the way."
Excellent Response at ARAUNY Screening

Tuesday, 02 August 2005

Last night we screened the film, gave speeches, and answered questions for an audience of 65 at Brighton Town Hall Auditorium. The audience included a student of agriculture, a former egg farming family, local filmmakers, and newspaper reporters. The audience had some great questions and feedback. Look for news on upcoming screenings, including one coming up August 21.
The Wegman’s egg attack

Note: many claims in this "article" are false. This is not a reputable newspaper: it is not covered by Google or Yahoo News. Here are a few interesting quotes though:

". . a slick, professionally edited 30 minute documentary, showing chickens in cramped, stacked cages, some dead chickens and large piles of chicken excrement . . was released."

". . Wegman’s is not only one of the best at caring for their chickens in the state, but in the country,” said [Frank] D’Aurizio. . . . [I]n any large egg producing operation, some chickens will die. This occurs naturally and as in small farm operations, chickens do get caught in fences and cages. D’Aurizio said he discovered that although the mortality rate for chickens can run as high as 10-30% in small backyard operations, Wegman’s chicken mortality rate hovered at about 1% for the expected life of a chicken."

"Wegman’s spokesperson, Jo Natalie, Director of Media and Consumer relations for the company, stated that the stores do care about the needs and concerns of all groups and customers. She said that Wegman’s does offer two brands of organic/uncaged eggs for those customers who do feel strongly about large scale egg farms. “Our job as a retailer is to offer our customers a choice.”

"Compassionate Consumer representatives did not respond to requests for more information for this story [because they were never asked...]."

Monday, August 01, 2005

dear wegmanscruelty.com:

thank you very much for making the film. since watching it i've decided to no longer shop at Wegmans until they come clean about their practices. (which is a big thing to say, considering wegmans is THE place to buy food in rochester) i have been sending the link to as many people as i can in an effort to spread the word, and wish you the best of luck in your effort to create awareness. i wanted to comment that the overall presentation of yourselves as a group is great, and i think that using a medium like myspace targets an audience that could potentially be rather receptive to your message.

. . . the film has spurred a lot of personal interest, and i imagine that has done the same for others. . . i support your cause and appreciate the hard work you've done.

please stay in touch,