McDonald’s pledge last week to start using cage-free eggs is only a small step in preventing staggering suffering endured by millions of birds.
Hatcheries that annually supply 200 million female hens for U.S. egg production, including cage-free, also kill the same number of male chicks at birth by grinding them up alive in industrial macerators or suffocating them slowly in plastic garbage bags. The female laying hens endure a lifetime of misery, crammed with five or six others, in small wire-mesh cages that cut into their feet and tear out their feathers.
Eggs are common carriers of food-borne bacteria, including salmonella, campylobacter, listeria and staphylococcus. The USDA estimates that salmonella alone accounts for 1.3 million U.S. illnesses and 500 deaths annually.
Eggs contain saturated fat and cholesterol — key factors in incidence of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. They are a common cause of allergies in children.
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Waste from millions of egg-laying hens ends up in waterways, rendering vast areas unsuited for recreation or water supply.
The good news for compassionate, healthconscious, eco-friendly consumers is that our local supermarket offers a number of delicious egg substitutes and egg-free food products. Entering “egg-free” in a search engine returns tons of recipes.