Salmonella and Factory Farms: Scrambled Together. {Plus, Coupons} ~ Steve Hoffman

Via Steve Hoffman
on Aug 29, 2010
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Egg on the Face of Factory Farms.

A half a billion and counting. That’s how many eggs were recalled last month because of salmonella contamination on two large-scale Iowa egg farms.

The recall is one of several recent scares linked to factory farms, where poultry and livestock are kept in confined and otherwise inhumane conditions.

Fox News has reported that one of the recalled egg producers has a history of violations dating back to 1994. However, the FDA says the violations lie outside its regulatory arena, and the USDA has never had a food safety inspector visit.

You, too, may not want to visit these farms. Chickens are packed to warehouse rafters and kept in cages so small and close they can barely turn around and must have their beaks cut to keep from pecking each other.

The close quarters means disease spreads fast, so factory farms often administer preventive antibiotics. However, the frequent use of antibiotics in factory farms is linked to increases in antibiotic-resistant diseases in human populations. Furthermore, large-scale animal farms produce large-scale animal waste. Unsustainable waste.

Score One For the Chickens.

Fortunately, farmers and activists in Ohio recently reached an agreement to restrict the close confinement of hens, hogs and veal calves. The agreement is a major animal welfare victory and further indication that, as the New York Times forecasts, “so-called factory farming – a staple of modern agriculture that is seen by critics as inhumane and a threat to the environment and health – is on the verge of significant change.”

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland had encouraged the farmers to meet with the Humane Society. The farmers, hoping to avoid a November ballot referendum on humane animal treatment, did meet and the two sides agreed to ban the building of new egg farms with close cages as well as to phase out the close caging of pregnant sows within 15 years and the close caging of veal calves within seven years.

After Iowa, Ohio is the second largest egg producer—so the agreement is a big step in the right direction.

There are, however, many more steps to take. The agreement does not affect existing factory farms in Ohio. Factory farms like the one the New York Times describes as 268,000 small white hens in cages “about the size of an open newspaper, six or seven to a cage.”

Factory farms that produce more than 90% of the country’s eggs.

Don’t Panic, Buy Organic.

Organic eggs may cost more (see video, below) but they are also worth more—and they’re safer. Organic eggs are produced by chickens with access to the outdoors and contain more essential fatty acids. Also, some, myself included, find organic eggs have more flavor and have richer, deeper yolks. And organic eggs have no antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or pesticides, so they lessen the amount of toxic chemicals in your diet.

In my own area, you can find humanely grown organic eggs at Vitamin Cottage’s Natural Grocers, Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods Market by producers such as Horizon, Organic Valley, Cyd’s Nest Fresh and Vital Farms. I’m actually partial to the mixed dozen of fresh green and brown eggs from Grant Family Farms just north of Fort Collins — available through Grant Farms’ CSA as well as Whole Foods’ Colorado stores.

For budget-minded consumers (aren’t we all?) who want to support ethical treatment of animals, visit the natural and organic foods coupon sites. Organic Valley offers $1 off coupons on their website. Horizon offers coupons on its website. And here’s an organic egg coupon resource, too.

Humane animal treatment – what an egg-cellent idea!





9 Responses to “Salmonella and Factory Farms: Scrambled Together. {Plus, Coupons} ~ Steve Hoffman”

  1. Laurie says:

    The organic label may be enough to ensure access to outdoors, which by the way can be nothing more than one square yard accessed through a tiny door, but it is my understanding that the carton must be labeled with "certified humane" if you want to be sure the chickens are truly raised in a humane manner. Anyone have any more information about this?

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Sandra Nicht instead of encouraging humane practices, the FDA wants to vaccinate the chickens and/or pasteurize all the eggs….

    Trista Norton I gave up eggs long before the recalls and although I am glad that battery cages are being frowned upon and that things seem to be moving forward, please keep in mind that even in "humane"/organic farms, male chicks are killed en masse as there is no use for them.

    Laurie C Ney
    The organic label may be enough to ensure access to outdoors, which by the way can be nothing more than one square yard accessed through a tiny door, but it is my understanding that the carton must be labeled with "certified humane" if you …want to be sure the chickens are truly raised in a humane manner.

    Anyone have any more information about this?See More

    Allison Bennett Saupe Gosh. I've been buying ones that come in a carton saying: nested yard eggs, from all natural grain fed free roaming hens, hand gathered, without hormones, steroids or stimulants. Could just be a trick, right? Why's it so hard for humans to be humane?

    Laurie C Ney Allison – see now that sounds legit to me. Is the producer local? Could you go have a look-see?

    Hope Miller seems like a good time to stop eating eggs altogether, but boohoo- no more omelettes:(

    Lori Landau no more eggs for me, and since giving them up, no desire for them either.

    CiCi Smith This egg crisis is horrible. Unfortunately, I think we are in for even bigger scares. Our way of lifestyles have become so unhealthy just do to laziness. I work for a restaurant which is nationally known called First Watch in Arizona. We are a daytime cafe. I know this, our eggs are safe, but it is still scary going out to enjoy yourself, anywhere and being scared if ingesting something unsafe. We all need to eat better & pay attention to what we ARE EATING. Thank you elephantjournal for everything you share with us.

    Allison Bennett Saupe OH, Laurie, Thanks! The brand is Featherland Egg Farms and it is a Texas egg company, in Marion, which I don't believe is exactly local to my area but I am in Texas. I see an address on the carton so I may try and contact them. And CiCi, it's hard to think about what's unsafe for us to ingest but also, especially for the poor chickens involved.

    Laurie C Ney ‎@ Allison – I checked out their website. They have over 100,000 hens… makes me wonder who checks all those nests…

    Steven Hoffman
    Great comments everyone. Thank you so much for your insights, perspectives and additional resources. I used to raise chickens, and they were such a pleasure to have in our little ranch yard. And their eggs were great. Not organic, as I was …not able to secure organic feed, but wholesome, all natural, home-grown eggs. I raised chickens in Honduras in the Peace Corps, too. While I'm 90% vegetarian, I do like to eat organic eggs on occasion, because I, too, like a good omelet. Nonetheless, the domination of our food system by a taxpayer subsidized, centralized and consolidated corporate-controlled food system has increased the use of GMOs and chemical pesticides – and also has increased food safety issues, such as the egg recall. There is a real cost to cheap food. See,8599,19….

    By supporting organic, you vote with your dollar by investing in building a more humane, health-conscious and environmentally beneficial system of agriculture and food production–one the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says could actually be the best way to feed the world! See

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Allison Bennett Saupe Thanks again, guys. I didn't see any explanations about the conditions in which the hens are kept on the link you sent. I did just email the company and will let you know if I hear back anything. Otherwise, I may call. I'm so glad to find people who care about these creatures. I'm striving to be vegan someday, but for now I'm eating some eggs and even certain fish now and then. Take care.

    Laurie C Ney
    I work as a microbiologist at a community college in CA. Here is the statement we received from our clinical supplier today:

    Salmonella tend to proliferate in the crowded conditions lacking in sunlight and adequate ventilation found in larg…e poultry operations. *Chickens raised in unsanitary conditions are far more likely to be contaminated, and lay contaminated eggs.* In fact, one study by the British government found that 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella, compared to just over 4 percent in organic flocks and 6.5 percent in free-range flocks. As studies show, *contamination occurs most often on farms that contain the most birds, typically 30,000 or more.* These large farming operations have flocks that contain over four times the average levels of salmonella compared to smaller flock sizes allowed under British organic standards.

    Eggs can become infected from the outside because eggshells are porous and whatever the eggshell comes into contact with can cross over this semi-permeable membrane and end up inside the egg, including Salmonella. This happens when hens sit on their eggs. It is estimated that each egg has over 9,000 pores in its shell large enough for bacteria to pass though. *Oddly enough, washing eggs, which is required by federal and most state laws, can remove one of the barriers that normally protects eggs from becoming contaminated.*

    But eggs can also become contaminated while they are being formed if salmonella exist inside a chicken’s ovaries. Hens can become infected by eating rodent droppings or contaminated feed, and then pass the salmonella on to their eggs. Salmonella can be transmitted by rodents, other birds, and flies. *It has been estimated that one in every 20,000 hens has ovaries infected with salmonella.*

    Trista Norton Laurie, can you get us that in a form so that we can share it officially? That's awesome!

    Laurie C Ney I have the newsletter that they publish… It is from Hardy Diagnostics in Santa Maria, CA. I don't know if there is a link to it on their website or not… Micro Bytes is the name of the newsletter. Does anyone know how I could turn the emailed newsletter into a form that is accessible?

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Laurie C Ney ‎… See if this link works…

    Laurie C Ney I think that did it… be aware of the disclaimer that it is for educational purposes only. I figure we are ALL working on our educations!

    Valerie Soraci Mitchell
    HEADS UP! Organic mostly refers to their feed, not their living conditions. They can say they're "free range" but there's no national standard for this. Some leave a door open and say "ok chickens go out if you want" some put them in bi…g rooms and let them walk around (sans cages -so cage free? right? not so much) The words you want to look for if you're looking for HUMANE treatment of the laying hens is PASTURE RAISED. Just like it sounds. These laying hens get to spend their days outside, pecking the ground for bugs. It's the best life (most natural to their own) we can offer these animals that quickly become roasting hens when they stop producing eggs. @Trista is correct, if you eat eggs you also contribute to the death of thousands of baby male chicks. They are the "by-product" like veal is the "by-product" of milk. yes, yes it is. And to watch the way in which they're smashed into bits I WOULD HOPE would be enough to make anyone sit and contemplate just how important eggs are to their diet.

    I've found a balance that works for my consciousness and my pocketbook (what am I 80 years old?? haha, pocketbook…)

    We buy eggs from a local CSA that raises their laying hens in pastures. I pay a lot of money to enjoy these eggs because it's the ONLY way I know how to
    1- make a difference in the big-agro world we've become
    2- take responsibility for the lives I've taken. I don't enjoy the truth about the "by-products" of eggs, not one single bit, but I also know that in the wild we could harvest fowl eggs without ever inflicting suffering upon them, so I don't have horrible guilt about eating eggs, just the way in which we destroy the lives involved with modern production- the ones that we "just don't need". It's a fine line to walk, it makes me sad to know I'm killing babies all so that my picky-ass son can have some protein in his diet (he's a veg and picky, so yeah, it can be a challenge some days) and I hope one day to have my own hens so that I damn well know that "no animals were harmed in the making of this omelet".

    All that being said, I would definitely like to ask the CSA what they do with their male chicks, it could ultimately push me back to not eating eggs. Humane death VS smashing machine? I def. see some wiggle room in there… fingers crossed…See More

    Lisa Shapiro
    i was fortunate to visit the premier cage free egg facility when i was the purchasing director at wild oats- it was horrific and this was the premier facility in the country sold under the name nest fresh- while the chickens were not in cag…es they had no access to the outdoors- accept when they were being transfered to the truck to be slaughtered- when i walked into the facitlity i was overwhelmed with the smell of amonia and feces- i can't imagine being in that envirnment for more then a few mintues let alond 24 huors a day. the chickens had no access to nesting areas and none of their natural insticnts could be expressed. it was one big room with 20,000 chickens. ALL the baby boys born to this premier cage free facility were immediatly killed bc they are of no use to egg laying facilities and they aren't bred for their flesh. these chickens were also "force molted" a euphamism for STARVED in order to increase egg production. while cage free eggs might be less cruel and less envinmentally destructive isn't about time we do the BEST we can do and choose a cruelty free and truly sustainable diet of plant based foods. we can not feed almost 7 billion people on animal products and it is time we face that reality. See More

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Lisa Shapiro

    to learn about the incredible personalities of chickens check out this article.

    Valerie Soraci Mitchell
    Lisa, I fear my CSA will tell me the same news about the fate of the male chicks on their property, but I'm hopeful for a miracle. I've heard Nest Fresh eggs did a number on us with their marketing, but the truth remains the same, the chic…kens live in their own waste and with no resemblance of their true habitat. We stopped buying eggs when we found out it wasn't any different then the big agro operations. I'd had hope that a local CSA wouldn't produce such suffering, but I soon found out that laying hens are slaughtered when they're done… so really, I might as well be eating chicken. Vomit, that's never gonna happen… but like I just said, I'm contributing to their deaths just like someone going in and ordering a chicken sandwich.
    THEN I had hope that the locals that started raising chickens for their eggs in their own backyards could offer me a humane solution, but alas, they plan on sending their ladies to slaughter when they're done producing, too.

    If I could, and this might the only way I can wrap my head around it, I would have a chicken friend that lived in my garden and ate the grasshoppers and that, for a short period of time, left me little protein presents to enjoy, as a treat, not a norm.
    No one gets hurt, no one gets used and abused and no one gets tossed when they're "done". *sigh* local food at its finest.
    Lisa Shapiro hi valerie,yes, sadly, all baby male chicks that are born to egg laying chickens are killed at birth regardless of how "happy" the farm is and yes, ALL chickens after they are "Spent" laying eggs are trucked off to the chicken slaughterhouse. i understand you have a child that is finicky but if you ever want to talk about high protein options feel free to email me personally.

    Valerie Soraci Mitchell
    Ahhh, you're right, you're so, so right. It sucks when you think that MAYBE this time around it'll be different, but there doesn't seem to be a way around it with eggs and milk. No matter how you look at it, something has to die so that w…e can enjoy that one little pleasure, and in MOST cases, it's a horrific death.

    Thanks for the gentle but honest reminder, life can be a little easier with blinders on, but it's also half a view of the truth.

    I would LOVE a list of other things I can feed this kiddo!! We've done enough research to know he's not UN-healthy, but options for a picky, vegetarian, growing boy would be greatly appreciated! THANKS!! See More

    Lisa Shapiro

    check these guys out val(; the rest i'll take yor directly(;

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Darrin Buehler
    I choose to eat organic eggs forthe more humane treatment ascribed to the chickens, as addressed in this article, as well as the healthier aspects for me and my daughter.
    That said, I have been reading and reading and it seems to me that whi…le the bacterial potential for salmonella may be reduced by cleaner conditions, it is not any guarantee that organic eggs could not also produce salmonella. And in fact, in this case, it may have been the result of rodents.
    Please edcuate me further. Blessings.See More
    58 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · ·
    Tracy Martin The only thing we can do that makes the best difference for the animals and for our health and the whole world is to eat vegan.
    41 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 2 peopleLoading… · ·
    Diane Marie So if we all become vegan, what do we do with all the cows, chickens, etc. Set them free and let them fend for themselves? Cows always head right for the road. The first one you hit will be your last, unless you drive a semi.
    15 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · ·
    # Darrin, watch the video inside with Michael Pollan…you're correct that it's possible to get salmonella from organic eggs. However, as Pollan says, salmonella really didn't even exist until the 70s, when factory farming's wheels began really spinning. Same thing with outbreak last year with peanut butter—Justin's Nut Butter was a safe bet.
    14 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
    Darrin Buehler
    Thank you, Waylon. I read the article, but did not watch the video. And/but now I will.
    I do hope that my investments in organic brands will add value in these dis-eased areas. I will be two-years vegetarian in October. Vegan is not right f…or me and my daughter at this time.
    I value what I gain from others here at EJ. So, once again, thank you.See More
    8 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · ·
    Diane Marie
    It comes from the chickens, before the eggs are even laid, and has a lot to do with what they are fed. As for the peanut butter, various types of crops are becoming tainted animal waste runnoff from neighboring farms, OR by septic HUMAN wa…ste that is dumped on fields. I have seen it with my own eyes, in Northern Minnesota, walking my dog in a plowed field–full of kotex wrappers, tampons, toilet paper…….Nice, huh? Farmers get paid to allow it, and it's cheaper for the truckers than paying to dump it at a facility. If there's no law on the books against it, it's considered "legal'.

  7. […] I cannot speak hen, but that sounds like an existence full of suffering. […]

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