Actor Brad Pitt just shared a major grievance he has with one of the nation’s largest retailers, Costco.
The company has received a lot of negative media attention lately for its practice of selling caged bird eggs.
In a letter to Craig Jelinek, Costco’s CEO, Pitt condemns the retailer for this practice and urges the chain to halt the sale of factory-farmed eggs.
“Nearly a decade ago, Costco indicated that its next step on this issue would be creating a timeline for getting those cages out of your egg supply, and yet today, you appear to have made no progress at all — even as you have set timelines for getting pigs and calves out of cages,” Pitt writes.
In 2007, the company announced that one of its goals was to stop selling eggs from caged hens.
Like actor Ryan Gosling, who wrote a letter to Costco last month calling the company out for alleged mistreatment of hens at one of its suppliers, Pitt addresses the conditions found in the chain’s egg suppliers.
“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 writes. “In these cruel cages, the animals’ muscles and bones atrophy from years of immobilization. That’s why the cages are illegal in most of Europe, and why California banned the cages by an overwhelming vote years ago.”
For its part, Costco says it’s committed to the ethical treatment of animals.
“Our mission statement to this effect is contained on our web site,” the company said in a statement. “We enforce this through testing and inspection of facilities, done by persons who are independent of the suppliers.”
The statement continued: “There are vigorous debates about animal welfare and laying hens. 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. Some jurisdictions, such as California, have laws mandating that eggs derive from hens confined in cages of a certain size.” (See the complete statement at the end of this post.)
Along with Pitt and Gosling, writer and television host Bill Maher published an op-ed in The New York Times last week expressing his concern for the hens and the suppliers’ conditions.
“Mentally, the birds, which can perform comparably to dogs on scientific animal behaviour tests, go insane in these tiny cages. Imagine cramming five cats or dogs into tiny cages, hundreds of thousands in each shed, for their entire lives,” Maher writes. “That would warrant cruelty charges, of course. But when the egg industry does it to hens, it’s considered business as usual.”
In his letter Pitt also mentions how many other companies, like Burger King and Unilever, are implementing changes in order to stop selling these eggs. He also adds that Whole Foods doesn’t sell factory-farmed eggs.
The actor issued a call to action, urging the corporation to make a change.
“I admire Costco’s many positive social commitments. You’ve shown great courage and integrity on a range of issues. Won’t you please extend that sensibility — and basic decency — to chickens? Please, will you set a reasonable timeframe to stop selling eggs from caged hens?”
Here’s the complete statement from Costco:
“Costco Wholesale is committed to the ethical treatment of animals. Our mission statement to this effect is contained on our web site. We enforce this through testing and inspection of facilities, done by persons who are independent of the suppliers.
There are vigorous debates about animal welfare and laying hens. 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. Some jurisdictions, such as California, have laws mandating that eggs derive from hens confined in cages of a certain size.
We respect that many people prefer to buy and consume cage free eggs. Our Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs derive from cage free hens, and along with other cage free items we sell over fifty million dozen cage free eggs a year. Over the last nine years, the number of organic/cage free eggs we sell has increased more than twenty fold.
One of our suppliers, Hillandale Farms, was featured in a video recently released by the Humane Society. Hillandale has released a statement with its perspective on the incident, available at http://hillandalefarms.com/. Inspections that we have conducted there as recently as this week confirmed for us that Hillandale is behaving appropriately. Hillandale has identified some areas in which it believes it can improve, including process improvement and more training for its employees. We support these efforts.”
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