Press Kit: Egg Exposé Reveals Cruelty, Criminal Violations at Trader Joe's, Safeway
1 - Press Release
Egg Exposé Reveals Cruelty, Criminal Violations at Trader Joe's, Safeway
Activists Seek Legal Action Against Egg Retailers, Accountability from the State of California
February 25, 2016, San Francisco – Today, the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) released a video and investigatory report showing criminal confinement and animal abuse at "humane certified" JS West, a major egg supplier to Trader Joe's and Safeway. Over a six-month period, DxE investigators found widespread violations of animal cruelty law, including California's Proposition 2, and evidence that state regulators have ignored their own findings in failing to report corporate misconduct for prosecution.
"California voters are not getting the cage-free future they voted for," lead investigator Wayne Hsiung, a lawyer and former law professor at Northwestern, said. "Hens are still illegally confined and abused, and the state government has concealed this from the public."
During numerous visits, DxE investigators entered JS West's flagship facility in Atwater, CA, which has been celebrated by The New York Times as giving hens "the good life," and found shocking conditions including grotesque lesions on the birds’ heads, severe injuries and mutilation, and crowding so severe that hens could not move. In one instance, investigators found a paralyzed bird they felt morally compelled to rush to receive emergency veterinary care, as she being trampled to death. An independent assessment of the complete video file by Dr. Sherstin Rosenberg, DVM, a Stanford and UC Davis-trained veterinarian and expert consultant on animal cruelty cases, confirmed that DxE's findings constitute violations of Prop 2.
"In virtually all of the cages, a hen would not be able to walk, turn around, or spread her wings," Rosenberg concluded. "The hens living in this facility are systematically subjected to needless suffering."
Documents obtained by DxE via California Public Records Act requests, moreover, show multiple instances where CDFA auditors found egg farms, including JS West, "not compliant" with relevant space requirements but failed to report them for prosecution. Indeed, inquiries made with counties across the state indicate there has not been a single enforcement action since Prop 2 went into effect on January 1, 2015.
"There is both factual and moral fraud," Hsiung said. "What our investigations are showing is that there's no way to make an inherently violent system humane."
Passed in 2008 with the support of 63% of California voters, Proposition 2 criminalized the production or sale of eggs laid by hens who were not allowed to “fully [spread] both wings without touching the side of an enclosure or another egg-laying hen" for the majority of any day. Violations of the statute are punishable by fines and jail time. In the year since Prop 2 went into effect, dozens of corporations have voluntarily committed to a "cage-free" egg supply. DxE says its investigations of "humane" farms, however, show that animal welfare reforms often are more appearance than reality.
DxE plans to present evidence of Prop 2 violations to both state authorities and corporate egg retailers and demand action against non-compliant retailers and suppliers. Protests against Trader Joe's, Safeway, and other retailers are planned for this weekend in dozens of cities.
Direct Action Everywhere is an international network of animal rights activists challenging speciesism in society. We use creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment. Visit Direct Action Everywhere on facebook and at http://directactioneverywhere.com/. Follow us on Twitter @DxEverywhere.
2 - Quotes
- "Our investigation shows what is becoming increasingly clear: there is no way to regulate a violent industry into a good one,” said lead investigator and former Northwestern law professor Wayne Hsiung.
“California voters made the same choice all Americans would make - to help animals. If we really want to help animals, piecemeal regulation is not enough. We need to transform our basic assumptions about what animals deserve,” said Direct Action Everywhere investigator Samer Masterson
“The State of California has failed to enforce even the most minimal requirement for hens to be able to turn around in their cages,” said Direct Action Everywhere campaign coordinator Priya Sawhney. “We would never accept this for our dogs and cats."
3 - Photos, Video, and B-Roll
4 - Fact Sheet and full investigative report
See a full investigative report here and a fact sheet here. Details include interviews with a senior animal control officer and animal welfare advocacy groups, Public Records Act requests regarding the California Department of Agriculture and Department of Public Health, Freedom of Information Act requests to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and details about JS West’s illegal confinement and abuse. Full information on this project, including location verification, can be found here.
5 - About Direct Action Everywhere
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) is a grassroots network of animal rights activists. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area in late 2013, DxE has since grown to have participating chapters in over 140 cities in 30 different countries. Drawing on the power of groundbreaking social scientific research, DxE uses creative nonviolent protest to challenge speciesism throughout society.
In January 2015, DxE released the results of an investigation of a “Certified Humane” Whole Foods egg supplier. The story was covered in the New York Times and Mother Jones. In November 2015, DxE released the results of another investigation, this time documenting a Whole Foods turkey supplier that was the only farm to achieve the highest “5+” rating on Whole Foods’ animal welfare scheme. That story was covered in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
DxE’s “Truth Matters” campaign of nonviolent protests has targeted Whole Foods’ false “humane” advertising, most recently with a letter signed by over two dozen prominent animal rights groups and public figures denouncing Whole Foods for “humanewashing” and hurting and killing animals.
DxE’s Open Rescue network provides open-source educational tools and resources to democratize investigatory work. The Open Rescue Network intends to serve as infrastructure for independent, grassroots teams of animal rights investigators around the world.