HOUSTON—The Humane Society of the United States was in Houston Wednesday to announce results of its latest undercover investigation of the largest egg producer in the nation -- Cal-Maine Foods.
An investigator spent time at one of its factory farms in Texas and found some disturbing evidence. The undercover egg investigation will make you think twice the next time you visit the grocery store.
"For 28 days concluding in early November, a Humane Society of the United States investigator was employed under cover at Cal- Maine's Waelder, Texas facility," said Paul Shapiro, who's the senior director for The Humane Society. "And what he documented was nothing short of severe animal abuse and food safety threats."
Birds laying eggs on top of rotting corpses of other hens were discovered. The Humane Society's investigation team also documented eggs covered in feces and blood as well as birds confined in cages so small, they were unable to spread their wings.
"You can have salmonella not only on the outside of the egg, but also layed inside of the egg," said Shapiro. "That's one of the reasons why last August about a thousand Americans came down violently ill that resulted in a half a billion egg recall from these Iowa factory farms."
The Humane Society is concerned about inappropriate egg industry practices that could lead to another salmonella outbreak.
"Many of the eggs that are being bought in Houston are coming both from Cal-Maine and specifically from this Waelder factory farm of Cal-Maine's," said Shapiro. "Eggs from Cal-Maine are not only sold at H.E.B., they're sold at Randalls [and] they're sold at Fiesta [stores] throughout Houston."
The Humane Society is calling on the food industry to do a better job regarding its animal welfare policies.
"Companies like Walmart and Costco already have 100-percent cage free private lines," said Shapiro. "When we buy eggs from caged hens, like those from Cal-Maine's Waelder factory farm, we're supporting this type of cruelty and putting ourselves at greater food safety risk."
Eggs from caged hens have higher rates of salmonella than eggs from caged free hens.
U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA) is inspecting the top 600 egg factories in the country. Based on concerns through the egg safety rule, the FDA could require that the egg industry moves toward cage free hen housing.