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.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs:
An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry
by Karen Davis, PhD

E Magazine: "Karen Davis gives consumers everything they wanted to know but were afraid to ask in her latest book, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry, which details everything from salmonella outbreaks to rampant chemical abuse."

Library Journal: "The author does a good job of drawing from a wide variety of poultry science, animal-rights and other literature to make her case."

Choice: Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs--"Well-written, well-researched, well-argued."

Vegetarian Voice: "Davis covers it all, from early history to the beginning of the modern factory farm; birth and family life; the battery hen; the broiler chicken; slaughter; and her wish for a 'new beginning.'"

Available as a free PDF

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tonight, October 27, Compassionate Consumers had its largest screening of "Wegmans Cruelty" yet.

Tonight 135 people came out to see "Wegmans Cruelty" at Rochester Institute of Technology. Adam Durand and Ryan Merkley spoke shortly before and after the film. The President and Campaign Coordinator for Compassionate Consumers also showed a short clip of an investigator at Wegmans Egg Farm with a Global Positioning System. This helped to squelch questions of whether the documentary's Wegmans EGg Farm footage is authentic.

The talk by Durand and Merkley was followed by about 30 minutes of questions and answers. After that over 116 people signed the UR-VEG petition, asking Wegmans to go cage free. These signatures put the petition over 1,000 so far.

Three chocolate cakes and 50 cookies from Skippy's as well as four dozen home-made muffins were all devoured.

Julie Rothman, a student at RIT deserves much of the credit for getting people to tonight's screening. Julie flyered the RIT campus like she was getting paid for it. She spent a pretty penny of her own money to buy the food from Skippy's. She also worked on setting up tonight's event. She deserves congratulations on this. You can send those kudos to her at: jrothman05@yahoo.com

Next Thursday Durand and Merkley will be presenting at the University of Rochester premiere of "Wegmans Cruelty". This means the UR has to surpass the 135 from tonight.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The chicken or the egg?

As drivers pull into Wegmans on Meadow Street, they are confronted by a large yellow wooden sandwich-board sign that reads, “Wegmans Med AA EGGS (limit 2 dozen) $.49” at either end of the parking lot.

If it’s a Friday between 5 and 7 p.m., drivers may see signs that show a different take on the eggs. These read, “Wegmans go cage free!” “Wegmans cruelty.com,” and “Honk if you support cage free.” Students hold up the homemade poster-board signs, and one of them, senior Dan Dunbar, does so dressed in feathers. In his handmade yellow felt stockings, a white-felt hen bodice complete with a red wattle at his neck and an orange-beak hood atop his head, Dunbar said he hopes to bring more attention to ethical treatment of hens.

The students are members of the Ithaca College animal rights group Boundless Ethics. They are protesting Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott, N.Y., which has more than 700,000 hens and provides eggs for all Weg- mans stores.

They have a problem with Wegmans’ low-priced eggs because of the poor care, feed and water the farm provides the hens, said Dunbar, the club’s president. He also pointed to the amount of time it takes for a hen to produce just one egg: 25 hours.

“The numbers sum it up,” Dunbar said. “They’re treated like machines. They don’t get to walk around and spread their wings, which is the least they deserve.”

The students also hand out copies of a 30-minute documentary, “Wegmans Cruelty,” made by Compassionate Consumers, a Rochester-based nonprofit organization that advocates consumer and animal rights in agriculture.

Activists filmed the documentary during alleged break-ins at Wegmans Egg Farm in 2004. Adam Durand, Megan Cosgrove and Melanie Ippolito, Rochester-area activists featured in the film, were indicted earlier this month on several charges, including burglary, criminal mischief and criminal trespass.

The documentary shows images of hens climbing on top of each other in rows of stacked, crowded cages; hens with their heads caught between bars of the cage; a hen drowning in feces on the floor of the farm; and living hens surrounded by dead hen carcasses caked onto the bottom of the cages.

Wegmans spokesperson Jo Natale said she is skeptical that some of the images are from Wegmans Egg Farm. Natale denies that the hens at Wegmans Egg Farm are mistreated.
“We run a good farm,” Natale said. “We think it’s wrong to mistreat animals. We want them to be healthy. We want them to live long lives. We have always sought out the most current science.”

Cages with automatic feed and water for hens, which activists call “factory farming” in “battery cages,” are an egg industry norm. But some major sellers are moving toward cage-free production, said Compassionate Consumers campaign manager Ryan Merkley.

Whole Foods and Wild Oats Markets, both natural and organic food stores, began selling exclusively cage-free eggs in June 2004. And ASDA, Wal-Mart’s subsidiary in the United Kingdom, stopped using 500,000 caged birds for its brand eggs in May.

Benjamin Lucio-Martinez works for the poultry diagnostic and extension services at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University and has inspected Wegmans Egg Farm and farms throughout New York. He said Wegmans has one of the best animal care management systems of all commercial farms in the United States in terms of watering, feeding, ventilation and space. Lucio-Martinez said hens in cages have a lower mortality rate than cage-free hens because they are protected against diseases and predators.

“There is no scientific measurement for happiness of a chicken,” Lucio-Martinez said. “There is a way to measure health.”

Lucio-Martinez said caged birds are healthier and the eggs they produce are cleaner and pose less risk to the human consumer than free-range or cage-free birds.

Wegmans eggs are available as a low-cost source of protein, according to the Wegmans Web site. Wegmans also offers customers the choice of buying cage-free non-Wegmans brand eggs for $2.69 for a dozen large and $2.99 for a dozen extra large — about three times more than Wegmans eggs.

Matthew Sanaker, one of several vendors at the Ithaca Farmers Market that sells free-range eggs for around $3 a dozen, started his 75-hen farm a year and a half ago with his wife to ensure that his food was being obtained humanely.

The hens at the Sanakers’ farm, Green Man Farm in Groton, are fed organic grains and have access to grass, water and sun. They are kept on Sanaker’s property by electric netting. At night, the hens are kept in wooden boxes indoors to protect them from predators, Sanaker said. The eggs taste better and the animals are healthier because they’re living a more natural life without antibiotics or hormones, he said.

There are no legal standards for labeling eggs “free range” or “cage-free.” For this reason, Sanaker said, the best way to ensure that hens are treated humanely is to buy from local, small-scale farms.

Katie McKeon, a speech pathology graduate student at Ithaca College and a vegetarian, said she chooses to buy organic and free-range eggs from Wegmans because hens on free-range farms are generally not de-beaked, a practice that factory farms do to prevent the birds from pecking each other.

“It seems like a more ethical way to go,” McKeon said.

Gabrielle Vehar, a communications graduate student at Ithaca College who interned for the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen last summer, said she still shops at Wegmans because it has so many natural foods available for vegans like her.

“I have written a letter to them saying, ‘You do such a good job for us, we hate to see you fall down in just this one area,”’ Vehar said.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Brave trio help to end cruel practice

By Maite Kropp


Now more than ever, I see an increasing number of people concerned about how their food is produced. They read food labels with care. They read between the lines.

No longer do public relations gimmicks sell food products. Take Wegmans Egg Farm, a 750,000-hen egg facility in Wolcott, Wayne County, New York. On each carton of eggs from the mass-egg production facility was a logo that reads "Animal Care Certified."

Three young people - Adam Duran, Melanie Ippolito and Megan Cosgrove - took it upon themselves to check the validity of this propaganda. In July 2004, they went into the facility and filmed what "Animal Care" was all about. It was not what the logo read on the cartons at all.

The film, shown in a theater last summer, has been met with controversy. It has also produced change.

Duran, Ippolito and Cosgrove were indicted last week on several counts by the Wayne County grand jury, including burglary, criminal mischief, petty larceny and criminal trespassing. If found guilty, they each face several years in prison.

I guess the charge of petty larceny would be for taking nine injured birds, of which two could not be nursed back to health.

In this country, more than 80 percent of the egg cartons carry the "Animal Care Certified" logo. This is a misleading advertising gimmick that was created by the industry.

This is a pivotal case. In the future, egg producers who keep their poultry in battery cages will no longer be able to use the words "animal care." What the educated, compassionate public wants today is free-range egg production.

On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced an end to the misleading logo. This is another step toward the ending of battery cages.

In 1985, according to the Humane Farming Association, a battery cage measured 12 inches by 18 inches. On the average, there are five to six birds chickens in each cage.

Considering the size of Wegmans, the courage of three, very young individuals makes me appreciate there are those who will risk jail time for the betterment of the animal kingdom.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wegmans Cruelty screening

Thursday, October 27, 2005 (7:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Golisano College at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)

20 Lomb Memorial Drive (Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps)
Rochester, New York 14623

RIT premiere of Wegmans Cruelty, the 27-minute documentary created by the consumer advocacy group Compassionate Consumers.

Optional discussion and FREE desserts to follow!

contact jrothman05@yahoo.com for more info.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Yolk of Oppression: Eggs Are Latest Front In Humane-Food Wars

[see also "
Bon Appetit Puts the Chicken Before the Egg"]

October 18, 2005; Page D1

It's getting easier to make a politically correct omelette.

In a move that signals the increasing importance of animal-welfare issues to the food industry, a large food-service company is expected to announce today that it will buy eggs only from hens that have not been confined in cages.

The action by Bon Appétit Management Co., which operates 200 cafeterias in colleges and corporate campuses, comes on the heels of similar bird-liberating pledges by retailers and colleges around the country.

In January, Whole Foods Market Inc., which has 177 stores nationwide, began selling only eggs and foods that include eggs from hens not raised in cages. Wild Oats Markets Inc., with 80 stores, adopted a similar policy last spring.

The policies promoting cage-free eggs are the latest examples of how animal-welfare issues have moved into the mainstream. Last year, California passed a law banning the force-feeding of birds to create foie gras; a number of states have similar bills on the table. And several restaurants around the country only serve veal from calves raised in a less-confined environment.

Some food companies are marketing their products as not only more wholesome than conventional fare, but also ethically superior. Products are promoted as being free of genetically modified crops or "local," that is, produced by farmers close to the area where products are sold. Many companies, from Smithfield Foods Inc., a major pork producer, to McDonald's Corp. have announced new antibiotic policies that limit the amount or kind of the drugs they will allow producers to use. Eggs reflect particularly well the plethora of claims now on the market: Today, many cartons are plastered with language including organic, free-range, "pastured," omega-3-enriched and antibiotic-free.

But in Europe, as a result of the threat of avian flu, some chickens are losing certain freedoms. In late September, the Netherlands adopted new, temporary standards for the management of free-range birds. Because of concerns that these chickens could come into contact with wild, migratory birds that could be disease carriers, outdoor areas must now be equipped with nets and shields to protect the chickens from wild birds and their droppings.

The movement toward cage-free birds has been a boon for some egg companies in the U.S. At Egg Innovations in Port Washington, Wisc., which sells only cage-free eggs, sales are up 20% so far this month over the same period last year; Eggland's Best in King of Prussia, Penn., which sells a variety of egg styles, says its total sales are up 10% through September over the same period last year, and its cage-free egg sales are up 49%.

Several companies and schools say they started buying cage-free eggs after being lobbied by the Humane Society of the United States, which began a campaign in January to halt what it calls abusive "factory farming" methods. "Caged birds suffer so immensely," says Paul Shapiro, manager of the factory-farming campaign at the Humane Society. Critics say the cages are cruel because they do not give birds enough space to flap their wings and express other natural bird behavior.

Some scientists disagree. Jeff Armstrong, dean of agriculture and natural resources at Michigan State University, was asked by the United Egg Producers, a trade group for the egg industry, in 1998 to oversee a panel of scientists and recommend new animal-welfare guidelines. He says that nearly twice as many chickens die when they are raised without cages, because they peck each other and suffer from more diseases.

"Cages are a humane way to raise hens, as long as some changes are made" to the system, says Mr. Armstrong. The new guidelines he helped develop, since adopted by about 80% of U.S. egg farmers, call for an average of 62 square inches per bird, up from 48, and increase to as much as 76 square inches over the next few years as the plan is phased in. Farmers must also remove chicken manure continually from the cages.

There are three basic methods of raising laying hens: caged, cage-free and free-range. The vast majority world-wide -- about 98% -- are caged. Cage-free birds do not spend any time in cages; instead, they roam the floor of a hen house. Free-range birds are those that are allowed to spend at least some portion of their lives in the outdoors, though not necessarily on grass, while hens that are set out on grass are known as pastured.

Egg farmers use cages to separate birds from each other and to help maintain cleanliness, which reduces disease, says Julian Madeley, director general of the International Egg Commission, a trade group for egg farmers around the world.

Eggs from caged and noncaged birds taste the same and have the same nutritional profile, but cage-free eggs typically sell for as much as three times more than regular ones. In September, the average price for regular, large grade-A eggs was $1.28 a dozen.

The only eggs with a nutritional difference are those that come from "pastured" hens, says Michael Hamm, a professor of sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University. Their unique diet yields eggs higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Only a tiny percentage of eggs come from birds raised this way, and are usually sold at farmer's markets.

This fall, Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, began purchasing only cage-free shell eggs and liquid eggs at a cost of an extra five to six thousand dollars a year. Since April, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., has sold only cage-free eggs in its student grocery store, and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., says it plans to start serving only cage-free shell eggs, pasteurized egg whites, liquid eggs and all other egg products in its food-service operations within three weeks.

Bon Appétit -- a unit of U.K.-based food-services giant Compass Group PLC -- buys about eight million shell eggs a year, as well as an unknown quantity of liquid eggs, which are not currently included in the cage-free pledge but may be in the future, says spokeswoman Maisie Ganzler.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

No Yolk About It

Syracuse New Times

Thanks for your recent coverage of the Wegmans egg controversy in the Sept. 21 What's Shakin' column. It's disappointing to see a respected company like Wegmans hiding animal cruelty behind the facade of "customer choice."

In the article, spokeswoman Jeanne Colleluori cites the "various cage-free egg brands we offer in addition to our traditional eggs," as if this token gesture somehow excuses the widespread animal cruelty documented on Wegmans' egg farm.

According to Colleluori, "Offering choices is the best way we know to allow our customers to exercise their beliefs and convictions." One wonders why Wegmans doesn't apply this policy to other ethically dubious products for which a demand exists. Will there be a sale on kiddie porn in the periodicals section soon? Or how about "smack you feel good about" at the in-store pharmacies?

Colleluori also claims that alternative production methods are too expensive. Yet in 2004, a survey found that cage-free egg production typically incurs a cost increase of only 5 percent to 15 percent, with even the most expensive methods costing only 70 percent more. Given that Wegmans has recently been selling eggs for 39 cents per dozen, that means an increase of less than 3 cents per egg. Is that really so much to pay to spare a sentient creature a lifetime of suffering?

A student group at the University of Rochester has launched an online petition to convince Danny Wegman that his customers care about animal cruelty. Please add your voice at http://urveg.org.

--Hoss Firooznia, Rochester

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Petitioners want Wegmans to only sell cage-free eggs

Misty Edgecomb, Democrat and Chronicle Staff writer

(October 15, 2005) — A digital petition drive aimed atconvincing Wegmans Food Markets Inc. to sell onlycage-free eggs is going live in Rochester.

Members of the University of Rochester VegetarianEducation Group are now collecting signatures oncampus, at local events and on public sidewalks nearWegmans stores in hopes of convincing the grocerychain to change production methods at its Wolcott eggfarm, the largest in New York.

"It's a way of getting the message across in areasonable way," UR-VEG spokesman Hoss Firooznia said.

Local activists — including three who are awaitingtrial for breaking into the egg farm to film adocumentary — have criticized Wegmans for its use ofcages that they describe as cruel. Last month, inresponse to pressure from UR-VEG members, theUniversity of Rochester pledged to buy only free-rangeeggs for its cafeterias.

But Wegmans says that its store-brand eggs go above and beyond federal requirements for animal welfare and that local stores already offer consumers two brands of the pricier cage-free eggs, in addition to its own eggs from the Wolcott farm.

"Consumers already have that choice," Jo Natale, director of media relations for Wegmans said.

The group has collected 200 signatures in Rochester and 700 online (at http://urveg.org). The effort will continue through the end of the year, Firooznia said.


Thursday, October 13, 2005


Wegmans Cruelty is a locally produced documentary about the inhumane conditions at the Wegmans Egg Farms. Egg farms are infamous for cramped, and just plain nasty 'Battery Cage' production where 5+ hens are stored in wire-mesh filing cabinets. This documentary takes a look inside the production facility, and makes the problems clear.

I've seen Battery Cage production before, and because of that I have tried to purchase eggs that have some sort of 'Animal Care' logo on them. Consumer choice and all, you can get slave labor t-shirts, and I can decided to pay more for non-slave labor. What makes me mad is, from watching this video, it's clear that the 'Animal Care' logo is a lie. The animals taken care of under the logo are no better off than standard battery cage production.

I'm no chicken hugging hippie, but goddamn, the conditions are just unsanitary, and the "Animal
Care' logo is a lie. It's worth watching.

Movie Quality : A+ (for a locally produced documentary, it's awesome).

Students and Staff Ask Wegmans To Follow School’s Lead

Rochester, NY (October 11, 2005) – Today the University of Rochester Vegetarian Education Group (UR-VEG) announced a petition drive aimed at Wegmans Food Markets. The group is urging Wegmans to phase out tiered "battery" cages at the company's egg farm in Wolcott, NY. Battery-cage eggs were removed recently from all products prepared at the University of Rochester, where Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman is a Senior Trustee. The UR group is calling on Wegman and his company to follow the school's lead.

"Dining Services should be congratulated for its concern for animal welfare," said UR Take-Five Scholar Abigail Aresty. "You would hope that someone who sits on the UR's Board of Trustees would want his company to be in line with university policies."

Wegmans runs the largest egg farm in New York State, with over 700,000 layer hens. In 2004, UR-VEG contacted Wegmans to inquire about the conditions on their farm. Birds caged on factory egg farms typically are covered with bruises, receive little to no veterinary care, and endure painful surgical mutilations without anaesthesia. Wegmans officials assured the UR group, in writing, that such practices do not
take place on their farm.

In 2005, however, Rochester-based Compassionate Consumers released video footage refuting Wegmans' claims. Investigators found evidence of widespread animal cruelty at the Wegmans Egg Farm: hens covered in excrement and open sores, live birds caged with decomposing corpses, birds with severe beak mutilations, and others drowning in liquid manure. The investigation prompted UR-VEG to launch a petition drive against the grocery giant.

Members of the UR community are collecting signatures on campus, around the city, and throughout the northeastern U.S. by way of an online version of the petition. "Danny Wegman is counting on people to remain silent and do nothing," said UR-VEG member Hoss Firooznia. "We're hoping to convince him that his customers won't tolerate unnecessary cruelty.”

700,000 layer hens live in cramped, barren wire cages at Wegmans Egg Farm, the largest egg farm in New York State. The facility has only one on-staff veterinarian. According to Compassionate Consumers, if that veterinarian were to give each bird a five-minute examination, it would take over 20 years to examine every one. However, hens at Wegmans Egg Farm spend about 18 months at the facility before being sent to slaughter.

UR-VEG is composed of students, alumni, faculty, and staff at the University of Rochester working to reduce unnecessary animal suffering by promoting healthy and compassionate lifestyles. UR-VEG sponsors speakers and films for the Greater Rochester community, hosts field trips and potluck dinners, and provides free, weekly rides to local groceries and restaurants.

To sign the petition visit: http://urveg.org

Hoss Firooznia, 585-261-5387, hoss@urveg.org

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wegmans Under Pressure

Ithaca Times, 10/12/05, By: Jake McNamara

. . . Wegmans has been bearing the scorn of animal rights protestors in Ithaca, due to the . . filming of the short documentary Wegmans Cruelty in Wolcott, N.Y., which claimed to expose conditions in Wegmans' laying houses.

Protestors are now gathering weekly at Ithaca's Wegmans. Beeby said she appreciates that Wegmans is selling vegetarian and vegan food, but worries it is more about "tapping into a market" than in treating animals more kindly. Actually, she thinks Wegmans is a "horrible offender of animal rights."

The film shows chickens crammed into battery cages where they can barely move; it also shows some birds trapped in wire, under feeder trays and even in manure pits, where they have no access to food or water.

Those who filmed the documentary broke into Wegmans' laying houses, and, after Wegmans discovered their break-in, the filmakers were arrested and indicted on charges of numerous counts for entering the facility and taking nine hens they believed to be dying (two of which later did die).

Jo Natale, Wegmans' director of Media Relations, said she has seen the documentary. "Much of the information is inaccurate," she said, adding that in breaking into the laying houses, the protestors posed a biosecurity threat and violated the safety of the hens. "The mortality rate at our farm is less than 8 percent a year. Free range farms usually have a mortality rate of 20 to 40 percent."

When the documentary was released, Wegmans immediately issued a written response. There is a statement on its Web site that reads: "In the end, it was determined there was no evidence of animal abuse. The New York State Police and the Wayne County District Attorney's Office jointly conducted the investigation, and Wegmans fully cooperated."

Beeby does not believe most government institutions fairly assess animal rights, and she sees Wegmans' claim of a bioterrorism threat as a common excuse. But with current threats such as the avian bird flu now spreading rapidly across Asia, Wegmans keeps increasing its security and limiting the number of people allowed in its laying houses.

Natale and other Wegmans officials state doubts that the entire documentary was even filmed in Wegmans' laying houses. When asked why Wegmans' officials doubt the film's authenticity, Natale simply answered, "Because we know our farms."

Upon further questioning, Natale said she had never personally been inside the laying houses, citing "safety concerns." Natale did say she had been in many of Wegmans' other farming facilities.

As protestors continue to advocate for change in Wegmans' laying houses, Beeby and Winemiller are discussing other local animal rights issues. . . . The activists hope their march instilled in the community some inspiration to learn about animal rights issues.

"There's a lot more going on than a lot of people want to think about when they go to the grocery store," Winemiller said.
Join the Wegmans Demo Tour

Starting this weekend, Community Animal Project will be visiting a different Wegmans store each and every Saturday. CAP Campaigners will also be visiting other cities to help with demo and media coverage in addition to stepping up outreach.We need to let Wegmans know that we are very serious about them making changes. Here is the schedule for the Syracuse area:

ALL Demos will be 12noon-1pm.

3325 West Genesee St.

3955 Rt 31-Near Great Northern Mall

7952 Rte 11

7518 Oswego Rd

6789 East Genesee St.

If still no response:
More on that will come later.

Please join us for an hour each Saturday to let Wegmans know that what their doing is unacceptable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Group protests hen treatment at Wegmans farm

Syracuse Post-Standard

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

By Jill Primost Contributing writer

Animal rights activists from the Community Animal Project picketed Wegmans in DeWitt Oct. 1 to protest the treatment of hens at Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott.

CAP and Compassionate Consumers, an animal advocacy organization based in Rochester, claim Wegmans overcrowds and mistreats its 700,000 hens at the Wolcott farm.

Wegmans said the claims are untrue and possibly fabricated.

Compassionate Consumers continues to circulate images from a short film, "Wegmans Cruelty," that purports to show crowded cages, hens living on top of each other and hens that have fallen into manure pits at Wegmans' farm. The group advocates for cage-free egg production.

"What they're saying is not true," said Jo Natale, speaking for Wegmans. "We run a good farm."
Natale said the film contains inaccurate information and questioned whether all images come from Wegmans' farm. Natale said that the farm is inspected and audited yearly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to Natale, Wegmans has met or exceeded USDA standards in each audit. Investigators found no evidence of animal abuse upon inspection of the farm, she said.

But animal rights activists say they will continue to contest Wegmans' claims of fair treatment of its hens. "USDA is a joke," said Shawn DeLeo, president of CAP. Regulators never give citations or fines, he said.

Ryan Merkley, campaign coordinator for Compassionate Consumers, insisted the footage in the film is accurate. The activists were wearing global positioning system devices that recorded their longitude and latitude, and the coordinates show they were at the Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott, he said.

Sept. 30, a Wayne County grand jury indicted three Compassionate Consumers activists, accusing them of breaking into Wegmans Egg Farm.

© 2005 The Post-Standard.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

from An Animal-Friendly Life, your daily source for animal-friendly links, animal-related news, and commentary.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Monday I went to the Emerging Filmmakers show at The Little (240 East Ave.) The big draw was Wegmans Cruelty by Compassionate Consumers and it didn't disappoint.

I'm accustomed to seeing "documentaries" that attack a corporation, but they always seem to sensationalize the trivial and are unable to convey complexity. In this case, the complaint was simple, visual, and visceral. Wegmans maintains a large chicken farm in Wayne County and the conditions are deplorable — even for stupid chickens. They are kept in cages stacked 3-high with mesh floors, allowing the lower birds to be defecated upon. Each cage held between about 5 and 9 chickens which represented about 40% of the volume of the whole cage — there was barely room for the birds to move, and impossible for them to do so without stepping on one another. The documentary found dozens of dead birds — some badly decomposed — in cages with living ones. Several chickens had escaped their cages and were living in the piles of feces below the cages; one being rescued from being trapped neck-deep in it.

Now I'm not one to really care much about chickens, but this was quite absurd. I'm also not one to experience nausea [although a bit squemish about knee and eye surgery] but this was really friggin' gross. I doubt Wegmans, like any corporation whose overriding motive is profits, will change their ways. They have already charged the filmmakers with burglary — stealing chickens (the filmmakers refer to it as "rescuing" as the birds stolen were badly in need of veternary attention.) They also broke into the farm house because Wegmans does not let anybody but workers into the farms (and that apparently includes other Wegmans workers or management.) It's clear that none of the major media outlets will do anything because they all get paid a pretty penny for sucking W-Cock.

Not that the Wegmans case particularly matters, though, since this is pervasive in the industry. According to the filmmakers on hand, farming industries have lobbied that even if an action is illegal, no one farm can be charged if it is a pervasive practice. Thus (according to the filmmakers) although there is a New York State law making it illegal to deny an animal food or water, the birds who get their necks caught in the cages and are left to die don't count because that's common practice across all chicken farms.

Heck, these practices are so pervasive, that farms like these have thier own certifications that are actually met: in Wegmans case this is both the New York State Egg Quality Assurance Program and the "Animal Care Certified" mark. This kind of thing doesn't fill me with any confidence for any certification mark ... I'm getting to demand to see where my food comes from, although in reality I gamble with my health like everybody else.

But let me just finish by saying that I might just puke if I see someone lick the shell of an egg right out of the package. I swear: it was that nasty.
"Animal Crackers": Indictments Handed Down for Wegmans Egg Farm Break-in

Why isn't there a link to the online film preview so people can decide for themselves what to think about Wegmans' cruelty to hens?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Add the Wegmans Cruelty preview to your webpages!

This is especially easy for MySpace users, but it can easily be pasted into HTML almost anywhere:

This is a little tricky. You have to do 2 things to the code below:
1. Remove the text that says REMOVE THIS!! (this prevents the preview from playing below);
2. Put the long Microsoft.com and Wegmanscruelty.com links back together (we had to break them so that they wouldn't screw up this page);
2. then paste this below into an appropriate place:

<REMOVE THIS!! EMBED name=RAOCXplayer pluginspage=http://www.microsoft.com/
Windows/Downloads/Contents/Products/MediaPlayer/ src=http://www.wegmanscruelty.com/downloads/
Trailer-WegmansCruelty.wmv width=330 height=300
DisplaySize="0" EnableC."0" AutoSize="false" ShowStatusBar="0" ShowC."1">

And add links above and below to any aspect of the Wegmans Cruelty campaign. If you need help, leave a comment asking for help and we will try to help you.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Wegmans should adopt cage-free policy

Letters to the Editor, University of Rochester Campus Times
Published: Thursday, October 6, 2005

While the University of Rochester is proving to be a leader on farm animal welfare, Wegmans seems to be headed in the opposite direction("Wegmans should follow UR's example," Sept. 29). Wegmans is refusing to follow the lead of University of Rochester and discontinue its sale ofeggs from caged birds. These hens are confined in cages so packed theycan't even spread their wings. They never touch the ground, nest or evenbreathe fresh air. Students at UR should be thrilled that their school has taken a stand against farm animal abuse. Wegmans customers should request that their store act in a socially responsible manner and endits sale of eggs from caged birds.
-Paul Shapiro Humane Society of the United States

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Egg Producers Relent on Industry Seal

(Similar stories by PHILIP BRASHER, Des Moines Register; and Nelson Hernandez, Washington Post)
Published: October 4, 2005


THE label "Animal Care Certified" on egg cartons was supposed to assure egg buyers that hens were getting enough food, water and cage space to flap their wings. But after complaints by an animal welfare group that the labels were misleading consumers into thinking that hens were receiving indisputably humane care, the Federal Trade Commission approved a labeling change in late September.

The new logos, which will instead say "United Egg Producers Certified," will affect about 180 egg producers in the United States, or about 80 percent of the 220 egg producers in the country.

"This is an important victory for animals and consumers," said Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, an animal welfare group in Washington that filed complaints two years ago with the trade commission and the Council of Better Business Bureaus over the old labels. "This allows consumers to make more informed buying choices," Ms. Meier said. "It is a step in the right direction for the egg industry."

The trade commission, while not making a formal decision on the dispute, encouraged the United Egg Producers, the trade group representing the $5.3 billion American egg industry, to alter the labels after the Better Business Bureaus recommended changes last year, said Mary K. Engle, associate director of the commission's division of advertising practices.

Ms. Meier said that the old label "implied that the animals were treated humanely, when they are not."

Egg-laying hens, she said, are the most abused animals in modern agriculture. They spend up to two years crowded together in cages with little room to move or spread their wings. To prevent the hens from pecking each other, parts of their beaks are sliced off, "without pain relief," she said.

And unlike household pets like dogs and cats, or other agricultural animals like hogs and cows, "pretty much from birth to death, egg-laying hens, as well as chickens raised for slaughter, have virtually no legal protection," Ms. Meier said.

Mitch Head, a spokesman for United Egg Producers, said he disagreed that the old labeling was misleading but said the association decided to make the change because the trade commission's review had become "a purgatory" for the egg producers and was hurting business.

United Egg Producers has consistently disputed that hens are mistreated. Mr. Head said a national consumer survey done by the producers showed that consumers did not think the label was misleading.

The issue of the Animal Care Certified labeling began in 2002, when the United Egg Producers established a panel of independent scientists to study the conditions under which egg-laying hens were raised. The scientists looked at cage space, food, water and how the hens were transported, among other factors.

The panel, headed by Jeffrey Armstrong, dean of agriculture and natural resources at Michigan State University, came up that year with a set of guidelines. Producers who followed the guidelines could place the Animal Care Certified seal on their egg cartons. Producers submit monthly compliance reports and are audited annually, usually by staff members of the United States Agriculture Department.

Mr. Head said the animal welfare groups' battle against egg producers could cost consumers money. The groups are pushing for eggs to be produced in a cage-free or free-roaming environment. Eggs produced under those conditions cost about $3 a dozen, about three times what eggs produced by conventionally caged chickens cost. Some 98 percent of the eggs that are sold in the United States are cage-produced, Mr. Head said.

"Right now consumers are voting with their pocketbooks," Mr. Head said. "If Americans are forced to pay three times as much for eggs, many of them will be forced out of having that cheap source of protein and vitamins."

The label change could affect retailers as well. Animal welfare groups have been pushing for retailers to stop selling eggs produced from birds confined to so-called battery cages, which severely restrict hens' movement.

Compassion Over Killing and the Humane Society of the United States recently singled out the Trader Joe's food stores, accusing the company of hiding behind the Animal Care Certified program. The company says it does not include that seal on its private-label packaging but has defended its use of eggs produced by battery-caged chickens by saying it buys eggs only from Animal Care Certified companies.

Alison Mochizuki, a spokeswoman for Trader Joe's, declined to comment.

by Mark Hawthorne Monday, Oct. 03, 2005 at 12:45 PM
Bay Area Indymedia, San Francisco

. . . It is apparent that activists are making it more difficult for animal agriculture to carry on with business as usual—and facing the consequences of their actions more frequently. “As we speak,” says Blum, “members of the animal protection group Compassionate Consumers, who recently concluded an investigation and open rescue at battery cage egg farms controlled by Wegmans, are also facing charges in New York State. It seems clear that factory farmers have become increasingly threatened by animal advocates exposing the appalling conditions at their facilities and are becoming more desperate in their responses.
Activists charged with mischief in hen house
Channel 3, WVAX TV - Burlington, Vermont
Channel 3, WSTM.com, Syracuse, NY

WOLCOTT, N.Y. Three animal-rights activists have been indicted and accused of breaking into Wegmans Egg Farm in western New York to film the chickens. The group supports cage-free egg production.Wegmans has said conditions at the farm are well within the law.

The attorney for Adam Durand, Melanie Ippolito and Megan Cosgrove said they were indicted Friday by a Wayne County grand jury on charges of burglary, criminal mischief, petty larceny and criminal trespass. If found guilty, each could face several years in prison.

The activists are accused of breaking into the grocery chain's hen facility in June 2004 to film the chickens' living conditions. The footage showed up in a short film called, quote, "Wegmans Cruelty."
The group supports cage-free egg production.

Wegmans has said conditions at the farm are well within the law.

(October 4, 2005) — Three animal rights activists have been indicted on charges alleging a series of break-ins at Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott, Wayne County.

Adam Durand, Melanie Ippolito and Megan Cosgrove were each indicted on several counts by a Wayne County grand jury last week, their attorney, Eric Schneider of Kingston, Ulster County, verified Monday.

The charges include varying degrees of burglary, criminal mischief, petty larceny and criminal trespass. If found guilty, each could face several years in prison.

Durand, Ippolito and Cosgrove are accused of breaking into Wegmans' 750,000-hen egg production facility on three different occasions in July 2004 in hopes of capturing video of the hens' living conditions, which the activists believed to be cruel. Wegmans was targeted in part because the Wolcott facility is the largest in New York state.

The three are members of a Rochester-area group called Compassionate Consumers, which advocates for cage-free egg production.

Durand videotaped the visits, eventually producing a short film called Wegmans Cruelty, which was released last summer and has been screened locally. However, the activists also took nine injured hens from the facility, two of which later died.

Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale declined to comment on the indictments Monday afternoon.

Schneider said Monday that he hoped the case could be settled without jail time. "These are very nice young adults ... they shouldn't be in the criminal system. ... Their sole motive was out of concern for these animals."

Durand faces three counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief, three counts of third-degree burglary, three counts of third-degree criminal trespass, and three counts of petty larceny. Ippolito faces two counts of third-degree burglary, three counts of petty larceny and three counts of third-degree criminal trespass. Cosgrove faces one count each of third-degree burglary, petty larceny and third-degree criminal trespass.

Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy, who is prosecuting the case, was not available for comment Monday.


Monday, October 03, 2005


Wegmans Food Markets Must Remove “Animal Care Certified” Seal

Rochester, NY (October 3, 2005) – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that the United Egg Producers' (UEP) "Animal Care Certified" logo will no longer be stamped on egg cartons nationwide. This decision ends the egg industry's three-year national advertising campaign that misle consumers concerned about animal cruelty. All Wegmans Food Markets-brand eggs are currently stamped with this deceptive logo.

The "Animal Care Certified" logo first came under scrutiny in June 2003, when Washington, DC-based Compassion Over Killing filed petitions with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the FTC, as well as other federal agencies, asserting that the logo is misleading. Under the "Animal Care Certified" guidelines, egg producers are permitted to intensively confine hens in "battery cages" so small they can't even spread their wings, among other abuses.

In 2003, and again upon appeal in 2004, the BBB deemed the "Animal Care Certified" logo misleading because it implied a greater level of humane care than is actually the case. Despite these rulings and the BBB's subsequent referral of the matter to FTC for potential legal action
against the UEP, the logo continued to appear on cartons across the country—and consumers continued to be deceived.

According to the FTC, by March 31, 2006, the "Animal Care Certified" logo will be gone from grocery store shelves, and consumers can expect to find it replaced with an alternative logo reading "United Egg Producers Certified."

Recently Compassionate Consumers led an investigation at Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott, NY, where the group found widespread evidence of egregious cruelty to animals. Investigators found hens covered with feces and open sores, birds forced to sleep atop decomposed corpses, beak mutilations, and hens drowning in liquid manure. Their 27-minute documentary "Wegmans Cruelty" contains video footage of their findings.

Compassionate Consumers is asking that Wegmans Egg Farm cease the cruel use of battery cages and go cage-free. Last month the University of Rochester decided to stop the use of battery cage eggs in foods prepared on campus. Danny Wegman, CEO of Wegmans Food Markets, is a Senior Trustee at UR.

Compassionate Consumers is a Rochester-based organization dedicated to providing the public with information about the treatment of animals on farms and at slaughter. The group is calling for a boycott of battery cage eggs. For more information visit: www.WegmansCruelty.com

Ryan Merkley, 585-410-0773, ryan@compassionateconsumers.org

Egg Certified Seal Receives Approval From Federal Regulators
When they egg industry gets knocked down, they just get back up again and act like they are glad the ACC logo was banned by the FCC.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules against Wegmans "Animal Care Certified" Program

Federal Trade Commission Announces End to Misleading Egg Logo

Monday October 3, 7:43 am ET

Egg Industry to Discontinue Use of "Animal Care Certified" Seal

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that the United Egg Producers' (UEP) "Animal Care Certified" logo will no longer be stamped on egg cartons nationwide. This decision ends the egg industry's three-year national advertising campaign that misled consumers concerned about animal cruelty.

The "Animal Care Certified" logo first came under scrutiny in June 2003, when Compassion Over Killing filed petitions with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the FTC, as well as other federal agencies, asserting that the logo is misleading. Under the "Animal Care Certified" guidelines, egg producers are permitted to intensively confine hens in "battery cages" so small they can't even spread their wings, among other abuses.

In 2003, and again upon appeal in 2004, the BBB deemed the "Animal Care Certified" logo misleading because it implied a greater level of humane care than is actually the case. Despite these rulings and the BBB's subsequent referral of the matter to FTC for potential legal action against the UEP, the logo continued to appear on cartons across the country-and consumers continued to be deceived.

According to the FTC, by March 31, 2006, the "Animal Care Certified" logo will be gone from grocery store shelves, and consumers can expect to find it replaced with an alternative logo reading "United Egg Producers Certified."

"This victory is important for both animals and consumers," explains COK Executive Director Erica Meier. "While the egg industry's husbandry guidelines still permit routine animal cruelty, at least the new logo will no longer convey a false message of humane animal care. The industry's next step should be to amend its guidelines to prohibit battery cages."

COK's two-year campaign to expose the truth behind the "Animal Care Certified" logo has included undercover investigations inside certified farms, media exposes, consumer polls and outreach, petitions, as well as the filing of a lawsuit in the District of Columbia Superior Court against two retailers and an egg producer for their continued use of the misleading logo.

Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Since 1995, COK has worked to end the abuse of animals in agriculture through undercover investigations, public outreach, litigation, and other advocacy programs. On the web at http://www.COK.net.

Email Story

Saturday, October 01, 2005

CURRENT SPIN FROM WEGMANS: When will they stop lying?

Wegmans Egg Farm

We’ve been concerned about attacks by animal rights activists on our Wegmans Egg Farm. We want to reassure you that in this company facility, as in all our endeavors, we adhere to the principles that have defined who we are over the last 89 years. These principles include high standards, pursuing excellence in everything we do.

Our farm started in 1967 to ensure the highest quality eggs to meet the needs of our customers. It has been managed by three generations of the Wadsworth family. We are constantly seeking the latest information to improve the operations.

We think it’s wrong to mistreat animals. It was seeking science-based animal care guidance that led us to be among the first egg farms in the U.S. to meet and exceedmeasurable standards of the United Egg Producers’ independent committee of animal science experts [this program is a consumer fraud, according to the Better Business Burea]. Those guidelines set standards for cage space, nutritious food, air and water quality, and other animal care practices. They have helped us improve, andwe will continue to use scientific information to improve.

We’re proud that others tell us we have one of the best-run farms in the entire country. Can we do even better? Of course. We’re now protecting our birds against break-ins (something that had never before happened in the history of the farm) and we’re increasing the scrutiny of every cage every day and making other improvements.

You may ask why our 750,000 chickens are in cages anyway. Up until the 1960s most eggs were produced in cage-free systems. Free-range chickens, exposed to the outdoors, have a normal mortality rate anywhere from 20 to 40% a year. We believe that our farm, with a mortality rate of less than 8%, is doing the right thing.

At our farm we provide:

Eggs produced by cage-free hens are available at Wegmans as an additional choice. Since they do cost more to produce, the retail price is two to three times as much as Wegmans eggs.

We continue to believe that our own farm provides the best and most affordable choice for most of our customers.

A little background...A group of Rochester, New York activists broke into our farm more than once in 2004. The activists allegedly filmed hens in one laying house during the break-ins and called on law enforcement authorities to investigate.

In the end, it was determined there was no evidence of animal abuse. The New York State Police and the Wayne County District Attorney’s office jointly conducted the investigation, and Wegmans fully cooperated. A noted Cornell University veterinarian was also asked to assess our farm. The break-ins are now a matter in the hands of law enforcement authorities.

The activists recently released a 30-minute film about our farm. Many statements made in the film are simply not true [which ones?], and we have serious doubts as to whether all the images come from our farm [which images do not come from your farm?].

Wegmans egg farm draws protesters

10/1/2005 9:35 PM
By: News 10 Now Web Staff

A group of protesters stood outside the DeWitt Wegmans Saturday afternoon. They say the grocery store chain is treating the hens at its egg farms poorly and many are packed so tightly together, they can't even raise a wing.

Wegmans says they meet all of the standards set down [by whom? the organization that gives standards that the Better Business Bureau has ruled to be 'fraudent' and 'deceptive'?], but these protesters want the company to make those standards tougher.

Greg Simon of the Community Animal Project says, "We want people to realize what goes on, and people to think about what they buy and what they eat, and that they have other options, and other ways to get nutrition."

Wegmans officials released an official statement defending their egg farms. They said "Free-range chickens, exposed to the outdoors, have a normal mortality rate anywhere from 20 to 40 percent a year. We believe that our farm, with a mortality rate of less than 8 percent, is doing the right thing."