ABUSE ALLEGED AT NEW ENGLAND'S LARGEST EGG FARM
State police and Maine Department of Agriculture officials raided an egg facility known as Maine Contract Farming and Quality Egg of New England on April 1st, after Mercy for Animals (MFA) filed a complaint for civil and criminal charges to be brought against the facility and workers there. An MFA investigator allegedly documented animal abuse at the facility from mid-December to February. "It really indicated to us that there appeared to be some very deplorable and egregious animal welfare violations over there," state veterinarian Don Hoenig said of the documentation, which included: supervisors and other workers kicking live hens into manure pits, holes in cage floors large enough for hens to fall into the pits below, hens with body parts stuck in caging including some 150 who were unable to access food or water, cages with decomposed bodies and rotting eggs, inhumanely killed hens and live hens in the garbage (see: http://tinyurl.com/cf2gaa ).
Quality Egg's management countered that none of the alleged abuses had been brought to its attention, and said that employees were re-trained on the industry-accepted use of euthanasia just last month. Investigator Chris Smith said supervisors dismissed his repeated reports of abuse, which is evidenced in MFA video. The company further alleges that Smith acted criminally by performing as a paid investigator without a license, pursuant to Maine law. It also points out that an annual United Egg Producers audit was conducted in December (see item #2) and that a state poultry health inspector examines the chickens for health problems about once a week.
Quality Egg, the largest producer of eggs in New England, was originally founded as AJ DeCoster Egg Farms, which had a history of human rights violations (see: http://tinyurl.com/dd7pv8 and #8: http://tinyurl.com/dhpv5m ). Hens are covered by Maine's animal cruelty laws, and the case has been turned over to the Androscoggin County District Attorney's Office. Major egg distributor Eggland's Best announced it would stop working with franchisee Radlo Foods. Radlo in turn said it will sever ties with Quality Egg and plans to "become an exclusively cage-free company within 10 years," which reportedly will make it the first national egg company to do so. (See also: http://tinyurl.com/d36fnl ) On April 3rd the Maine Senate unanimously directed the state Department of Agriculture to develop standards for egg production: http://tinyurl.com/dca5u3 See also: EGG GIANTS WORK ON REFORMS: http://tinyurl.com/cqy59k
PROBE GOES ON DAY AFTER RAID AT TURNER PLANT (includes photos)
Sun Journal, Lindsay Tice with Judith Meyer, April 3, 2009
STATE EXECUTES SEARCH WARRANT AT TURNER EGG FARMER
Sun Journal, April 1, 2009
EGG FARM MANAGERS FIRE BACK AT ANIMAL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION
Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Susan Sharon, April 7, 2009
NOBODY CARED ABOUT THE ANIMAL ABUSE, SAYS UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATOR AT TURNER EGG FARM
Sun Journal, Daniel Hartill, April 8, 2009
MASS.-BASED EGG PRODUCER VOWS TO GO 'CAGE FREE'
Associated Press, Jerry Harkavy, April 6, 2009