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U.S. | Animal Liberation

Follow-up on Trader Joe's battery cage eggs fight and victory
by karen dawn
Thursday Nov 10th, 2005 5:55 PM
DawnWatch: KGO Trader Joe's Battery Cage follow-up notes huge public response 11/8/05
On Tuesday, November 8, the KGO I-Team, on San Francisco's ABC affiliate, ran a follow-up to the Friday, November 4, Trader Joe's battery cage eggs story. During the follow-up, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, credits the I-team, and the public pressure the report instigated, with a promising new development: "All of the Trader Joe's brand name eggs will be converted to cage-free by February 1."

Reporter Dan Noyes notes, during the follow-up report, that KGO "received more than 100 e-mails since our investigation Friday night." At the end of the story, the anchor also mentioned that there has been "a lot of reaction to this piece." And Noyes shared that KGO is posting, on its website, the emails it continues to receive about the report. The links where you can read those posts, and where you can send your own note to KGO, are at the bottom of the web-page report, which I will paste below. I send a huge thank you to those who have already written, making it clear to KGO that this is an issue viewers care about. If you have not yet written, please do.

You can watch the follow-up story, which includes much of the disturbing battery cage footage from the Friday night story, on line at:
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=i_team&id=3617827

And here is the print version:

Trader Joe's Makes Change To 'Egg' Policy Worldwide Reaction To I-Team Report By Dan Noyes

Nov. 8 - KGO - There's a major announcement from the Humane Society of the United States and Trader Joe's. It comes just four days after an I-Team investigation showed the grocer's brand name eggs come from hens kept in what's known as "battery cages."

The I-Team has gotten reaction from around the world to our investigation that aired Friday and Trader Joe's has been feeling the heat. The deal reached Tuesday could keep about 380,000 hens a year out of those battery cages.

A word of caution -- some of the images from an undercover tape are disturbing.

The I-Team traced eggs bought at the Trader Joe's in Emeryville last week to a huge farm near the Central Valley town of Turlock.

Gemperle Enterprises keeps more than 1.5 million hens in what are called battery cages -- it's a common farming technique in which a hen's confined to a space the size of a sheet of paper its entire life.

An undercover activist has been going to Gemperle on and off for the past year -- walking past the 'keep out' and 'no trespassing' signs to document the conditions.

Undercover activist: "If I can do anything to stop just a little bit of animal suffering, it would be worth it to have to deal with law enforcement."

Up to eight hens are crammed into a single cage. It's such a tight fit they can't even spread their wings. Their beaks have to be clipped so they won't cannibalize each other.

Cages are stacked five high and some hens on the bottom row are covered in feces.

The activist's undercover tape also showed the casualties that are inevitable in such a large battery cage operation.

The I-Team report featuring those pictures four days ago had a big impact on the negotiations between Trader Joe's and the Humane Society of the United States.

Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President & CEO: "And then the retailer really took action because they knew they could not withstand the public scrutiny."

They reached a two-part agreement:

All of the Trader Joe's brand name eggs will be converted to cage-free by February 1st.
All store promotions will feature only cage-free eggs.

Trader Joe's currently sells 100 million eggs under its own label. Converting those could affect about 380,000 chickens.

It's welcome news for some Trader Joe's customers.

Customer: "I think that's good. Don't let the chickens be cooped up."

Others are upset that the company refuses to stop selling any eggs from battery cages, the way Whole Foods has done.

Matt Haupt, Trader Joe's customer: "I don't think they actually care about the issue, though, because they're still offering the old eggs."

The I-Team's received more than 100 e-mails since our investigation Friday night from England, Italy, Australia and people across the Bay Area -- like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who's thrilled with today's news.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, e-mailed I-Team: "I'm glad they made this change. It's really amazing they made this change so quickly."

Through a spokesman, Trader Joe's chairman and CEO Dan Bane declined our request for an interview, but issued a statement saying:

"Trader Joe's is pleased to have addressed the concerns of our customers and the Humane Society of the United States."

HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle is considering his next move in the battery cage campaign.

Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President: "All of the major chains that sell eggs, we want them to offer consumers the option of cage-free eggs and frankly to move the battery cages off the shelves because we should not tolerate this form of cruelty."

We reached the owner of the farm, Steve Gemperle, by phone on Tuesday. We wanted to ask him how the announcement affects his business and whether he would move to a cage-free system. But he declined to comment.

We're posting all of the e-mails that continue to come in from people interested in this story. Click here to read what people are thinking about this issue: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=i_team&id=3617183

E-mail the ABC7 I-Team: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=i_team&id=3308976
(END OF KGO REPORT)

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(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)