Brad Pitt has called on US chain Costco to stop selling eggs laid by battery hens in an open letter to the retail giant.
The actor wrote to Costco CEO Craig Jelinek asking him to ban the use of caged birds, which according to animal welfare groups live under conditions of extreme cruelty.
As you know, these birds producing eggs for your shelves are crammed five or more into cages that are not large enough for even one hen to spread her wings,’ Pitt wrote. ‘In these cruel cages, the animals’ muscles and bones atrophy from years of immobilisation. That’s why the cages are illegal in most of Europe, and why California banned the cages by an overwhelming vote years ago.
Many major corporations, from Burger King to Unilever, are getting rid of cages – and Whole Foods hasn’t sold eggs from caged hens in years. Please, will you set a reasonable timeframe to stop selling eggs from caged hens?
Pitt becomes the latest well-known US figure to criticise the use of battery hens at Costco, the third largest retailer in the country. Last month, Ryan Gosling also wrote to Jelinek as part of a campaign organised by animal rights organisation Farm Sanctuary. “I am writing today about the recent undercover investigation conducted by my friends at the Humane Society of the United States at a Costco egg supplier,” he wrote. “Video footage revealed abhorrent cruelty including rows upon rows of birds confined in filth-laden cages with the mummified corpses of their cage-mates – eating, sleeping, defecating, and laying eggs on top of dead birds – and hens’ wings, legs, and necks trapped in the corroded wires of their battery cages.”
Farm Sanctuary, which also counts the comic Bill Maher among its supporters, said pressure was mounting on Costco. “When Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Bill Maher all weigh in to say that battery cages are horribly abusive of animals and should be banned, it’s time for Costco to listen,” said the organisation’s policy director, Bruce Friedrich. “The animal protection community is laser-focused on Costco’s support for cruelty to animals, and the issue is not going away.”
The retailer said in 2007 that it would move towards ridding its stores of battery hen-laid eggs. But in June, the firm indicated there were still issues to be resolved. “Some, such as the Humane Society, advocate that hens be ‘cage free’, and not confined in cages. Some advocate that cages are safer for hens,” the company said in a statement.
This article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Friday 17th July 2015 08.39 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010