Issue: Starving hens to manipulate egg production--the practice
known as forced or "induced" molting--causes hens' immune systems
to break down under the stress. In "Salmonella Control and
Molting Of Egg-Laying Flocks--Are They Compatible" (July 1994),
the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida
said that the standard molting procedure of starving birds for 10
to 14 days "unavoidably stresses the birds. Their immune system
is therefore suppressed and the flock's susceptibility to
salmonella infection is increased."
"While unmolted hens usually have to ingest about |
cells to become infected, molted hens
need fewer than ten."
- World Poultry, Vol 12, No 9 (1996)
Campaign/Information Update: In April 1998 United Poultry
Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
petitioned the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to ban forced
molting. FDA has jurisdiction to ban farm practices that harm
human health. In June 1999, the Animal Legal Defense Fund wrote
to FDA urging that a decision be made on our petition (Docket No.
98P-0203/CP1). We await that decision and urge our members to
keep up the pressure!
In July, the US General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a
report to Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois entitled "Food
Safety: U.S. Lacks a Consistent Farm-to-Table Approach to Egg
Safety." Between 1985 and 1998, "over three-quarters of
Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks were linked to eggs, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." Causes cited
in the report are "heavy rodent populations" and "forced
We are pleased to report that the August 2 issue of U.S.
News & World Report published letters to the editor about forced
molting from United Poultry Concerns and The Humane Society of
the United States in response to the magazine's article, "A
Crackdown on Bad Eggs" (July 12).
United Egg Producers (UEP is the US egg industry trade group) has
formed an advisory committee to review the industry's animal
welfare guidelines. Why? "Recent campaigns have been mounted by
United Poultry Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for
Animal Rights. A letter writing campaign resulted in several
thousand letters being received at the UEP office. . . . '[W]e
have been criticized by animal rights groups and questioned by
government agencies,' said Gene Gregory, UEP senior vice
president." --Poultry & Egg Marketing, May-June 1999.
feed withdrawal from
turkeys and chickens "has long been shown to markedly increase
contamination with both Salmonella and Campylobacter, The birds
look for other food sources during feed withdrawal, eating litter
[the contaminated material the birds are forced to live in] when
they are hungry." Since hens being starved in their cages do not
have access to litter, they are driven to "pluck and consume"
cage mates' contaminated feathers (Avian Diseases 1995, 39:248).
- Food Chemical News, July 26, 1999, reported on a recent meeting
of the National Turkey Federation
- We wish to thank everyone who responded to our August Action
Alert urging the Food & Drug Administration to reduce egg borne
diseases by prohibiting forced molting. (Submission deadline was
Sept 20.) Here is yet another opportunity to make your voice
heard. The President's Council on Food Safety is seeking public
input on ways to reduce foodborne illness in the nation's food
supply. There is no deadline, but don't wait! Citing the
appropriate docket number in order for your letter to be counted,
write to the Department of Agriculture and the Food & Drug
For US Dept of Agriculture: DOCKET No. 98-045N
USDA/FSIS Hearing Clerk
300 12th Street, SW
Room 102 Cotton Annex
Washington DC 20250-3700
For FDA: DOCKET No. 97N-0074
FDA/Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)
5630 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
For electronic submission: DOCKET NO. OPP-OO550
Electronic comments must be submitted as a ASCII file avoiding
use of special characters and any form of encryption.
- Urge the US Food & Drug Administration to grant United Poultry
Concerns' petition to ban forced molting. Citing DOCKET NO. 98P-
Dockets Management Branch
Food and Drug Administration
Department of Health & Human Services
12420 Parklawn Drive, Room 1-23
Rockville, MD 20857