Mercy For Animals calls for transparency and a ban on new cages
TORONTO (Feb. 8, 2024) — Canada’s largest egg producer, Burnbrae Farms, faces scrutiny for keeping consumers in the dark about the living conditions of the hundreds of thousands of chickens in its supply chain. Mercy For Animals, a global animal protection organization, discovered ambiguities in Burnbrae’s reporting, sparking concerns about chicken welfare and prompting a request for increased public disclosure.
Burnbrae Farms, with its nine company-owned sites and 400 independent farmers, supplies eggs and egg products to an enormous number of major Canadian restaurants, grocery retailers, and foodservice companies. The company is being critiqued for its lack of transparency and continued investment in cages despite touting a commitment to animal welfare.
In 2022, Burnbrae reported that 48.9% of its supply had shifted to “alternative housing,” grouping “enriched” cages with cage-free practices. Enriched cages, however, are far from consumer expectations for cage-free. The production method fails to meet the welfare needs of chickens, subjecting them to a life of confinement and misery similar to that of birds in conventional wire battery cages. Burnbrae’s actual breakdown of housing methods remains undisclosed, obscuring the cruel reality of living conditions for chickens. Burnbrae is leaving Canadians in the dark on whether enriched cages, only marginally larger than barren wire battery cages and lacking the space for chickens to open their wings, dominate its reported “alternative” supply.
Burnbrae’s labeling system has also come under scrutiny for including misleading illustrations of idyllic open-air pastures and happy cartoons on cartons of eggs sourced solely from chickens in cruelly restrictive “enriched” cages, concealing the true extent of their suffering.
Over 130 major Canadian food companies have public policies to phase out all cages from their egg supply, with well-known brands like IKEA, The Keg, Unilever, and Harvey’s having completed their 100% cage-free transitions. Burnbrae’s ongoing investment in cage systems contrasts with the industry’s trend toward less cruel practices and places food companies at risk of defaulting on cage-free policies they have promised investors and consumers.
“It’s unacceptable that a business bringing in hundreds of millions in revenue every year is using such dated and cruel factory farming practices while entire countries and states are making caging chickens illegal,” said PJ Nyman, corporate engagement manager at Mercy For Animals. “It doesn’t make sense that the country’s largest egg producer continues to invest in a cage system that no one wants and places food businesses at risk.”
Burnbrae Farms claims to value animal welfare and transparency. As Canada’s largest egg producer, Burnbrae has the resources and responsibility to do what’s right for consumers and animals: commit to no more cages.
Notes to Editors
For more information or to schedule an interview with PJ Nyman, contact Jessica Bohrson at [email protected].
Mercy For Animals is a leading international nonprofit working to end industrial animal agriculture by constructing a just and sustainable food system. Active in Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, and the United States, the organization has conducted over 100 investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses, influenced over 500 corporate policies, and helped pass historic legislation to ban cages for farmed animals. Join us at The Mercy For Animals 25th Anniversary Gala to honor those who fight for compassionate alternatives to the status quo and a world where all animals are respected, protected, and free.