Paul Shapiro, senior director of the factory farming campaign at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), responded to assertions made by the United Egg Producers (UEP) in a recent online QSR story and video.

The UEP opposes the nationwide switch to cage-free eggs, claiming the move would force higher prices of egg production, in turn upping the retail price of eggs and crippling the U.S. egg industry.

“The UEP knows this isn’t true,” Shapiro says. “In fact, an economic analysis of battery cage versus cage-free production created for the United Egg Producers by an egg industry economist found that raising hens in cage-free environments costs producers less than a penny more per egg.”

Shapiro says that the chains that have made the switch to partial use of cage-free eggs—a list that includes Quiznos, Wendy’s, and Burger King—have not been forced to raise prices.

“Burger King has switched more than 20 million of its eggs to cage-free and has not raised its prices,” he says. “In fact, when Burger King announced this change in 2007, it received more positive unsolicited responses from its customers than it ever had about any announcement in the company’s history.”

“People want cage-free eggs and companies that respond are reaping the benefits.”

The HSUS plans to continue its fight against the use of battery cages on egg farms, claiming that the adverse affects asserted by the UEP and other opponents are simply not true.

“Independent scientific research, including by the prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, have concluded that cage-free egg production is better for animals and food safety than battery cage egg production,” Shapiro says. “Moreover, we wouldn’t expect a nationwide switch to cage-free eggs to happen overnight, giving producers ample time to phase out their cages in favor of open barns.”

“Scientific, governmental, and economic studies have shown that cage-free eggs are better for the hens and the people who eat them, and production-wise, are comparably priced to eggs from caged hens,” Shapiro continues. “The myths spread by some in the egg industry regarding allowing animals enough room to simply extend their limbs conflicts with science, common sense, and consumer demand.”

For more on the UEP’s stance against the nationwide switch to cage-free egg production, click here, or click here for a video interview with UEP president Gene Gregory.

By Sam Oches