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Wegmans Food Markets Profit From Pain

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Danny Wegman, CEO, Wegmans Food Markets Inc.
Jo Natale, Wegmans Consumer Affairs
Wegmans Food Markets
1500 Brooks Avenue
PO Box 30844
Rochester, NY 14603-0844
ph: 585-328-2550, 1-800-WEGMANS, ext. 4760; fax: 585-464-4664
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Senior Vice President of Consumer Affairs, Mary Ellen Burris / web email:

Dear Mr. Wegman, Ms. Natale and Ms. Burris:

You have likely received similar requests to ban the sale of eggs from hens confined in cages as Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Natural Marketplaces have done. In a Zogby International Poll, 86% of public responders considered battery cages an "unacceptable" system. Clearly, your consumers care about the treatment of animals used in food production.

As administrators of a Wolcott, NY egg factory with more than 750,000 hens, Wegmans ought to uphold claims about its "healthy and well-cared for" animals. Instead, your company's commitment to animal welfare seems more like marketing savvy than reality.

In 2004, investigators recorded evidence of shocking cruelty at the Wegmans Egg Farm. In a fantastic departure from your advertising materials, observers documented typical factory farm conditions: Hens are enclosed inside wire coops no larger than a filing drawer. Each bird occupies a space smaller than a shoebox bottom. From birth to death, hens cannot flutter a wing or extend a leg. They are covered in bald spots and abrasions from constant rubbing against wire walls.

With zero possibility to engage in instinctive behaviors such as nesting, dust bathing, perching (even walking), the hens languish in their own feces. Live birds subsist alongside rotting corpses and the few who break free drown in liquefied manure pools below their cages.

To curtail stress-related fighting and cannibalism, workers sear off the bottom third of each bird's sensitive beak. These crude farming tactics are widely prohibited in European Union member states. Most Americans disapprove of them as well. I urge Wegmans to make substantial reforms that reflect its consumer base. Please don't profit from pain and suffering.

And please adjust your literature to reflect the truth. For example, your website contends Wegmans egg facilities are audited by federal agencies. In fact, neither the U.S. Department of Agriculture nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specify animal welfare regulations for egg manufacturing. Egg-laying hens are wholly vulnerable to abuse, since no federal law exists to shield them.

I encourage you to eliminate battery cages and suspend all use of battery-cage operations. Please lead the way in humane farming principles with a nationwide policy against the sale of eggs from caged hens.

Thank you,

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