NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CN) - An animal rights group accuses an egg industry confederation and a producer of consumer fraud: proclaiming brutal facilities as "animal care certified." Compassion Over Killing claims United Egg Producers allows its member ISE America to mutilate hens' beaks without anesthesia and confine hens in cages so small they cannot spread their wings and sometimes hang themselves.
Plaintiffs say the defendants mark their egg cartons as "animal care certified" in violation of an agreement between United Egg Producers (UEP), its member ISE, and the Federal Trade Commission.
ISE is a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese corporation. UEP is an egg industry trade confederation. It "runs a licensing and advertisement certification membership program for egg producers nationwide," according to the complaint in Middlesex County Court.
UEP introduced its phrase "animal care certified," accompanied by a check-mark logo, in 2002, in a "voluntary compliance program" for its members.
Plaintiffs say facilities that proclaim themselves as "animal care certified" are allowed to stuff hens into cages that give each hen "a mere 67 inches of cage floor space ... less are than a sheet of letter-sized paper." The "animal care certified" hens can be, and are "forced molted" and "Mutilated without benefit of anesthesia," by having one-third of their beaks cut off "to prevent stress-induced fighting due to extreme crowding," the complaint states.
ISE's New Jersey "batter cage facility" houses about 1.2 million hens, according to the complaint. It claims consumers are willing to, and do, pay higher prices for eggs stamped with the allegedly deceptive marks.
Plaintiffs want the defendants enjoined from using their trademark and logo, a public statement "correcting their misleading advertising," and treble damages. They are represented by Egert and Trakinski of Hackensack.
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