MFA's "Biohazard Crew" Encourages Shoppers to "Recall All Eggs, Choose Vegan!"

Donning white jumpsuits, rubber gloves and face protection masks, Mercy For Animals "biohazard crew" - wielding signs with images of dead hens' rotting corpses in cages next to dirty eggs that read, "Recall All Eggs, Choose Vegan" - greeted shoppers outside a Chicago Dominick's and Dallas Albertson's grocery store on Tuesday in response to the largest egg recall in recent U.S. history. The crew distributed emergency Vegetarian Starter Kits to the busy lunchtime crowds - encouraging them to protect animals from abuse and their health from salmonella by adding more egg-free options to their diets.

Why the ruffled feathers? Mercy For Animals wants shoppers to know that factory farms, like the one where the salmonella outbreak began, are not only dangerous to public health, they are also cruel to animals.

Over 95% of the chickens raised to lay eggs in the U.S. are forced to live crammed together inside battery cages - small, barren wire cages stacked in rows inside filthy windowless sheds. Battery cages are typically the size of a file drawer and confine five to seven hens, routinely giving each bird only 67 square inches of floor space - an area smaller than a notebook-sized piece of paper. Disease often runs rampant in squalid factory farming conditions, but in an attempt to minimize costs, even the sickest of hens are routinely denied veterinary care.

A 2009 undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals at an egg factory farm in Maine owned by Jack DeCoster, who also owns Wright County Egg, which is at the center of the recall, uncovered shocking cruelty to animals. Hidden camera video at the farm shows birds living in feces, dead hens left to rot in cages with birds still producing eggs for human consumption, birds suffering from untreated open wounds, infections, and broken bones, and workers breaking birds' necks, kicking hens and throwing live birds in trash bins. Earlier this year, as a result of the investigation, DeCoster pleaded guilty to 10 civil counts of cruelty to animals and paid over $130,000 in fines and restitution.

"Almost all egg-laying hens in America are crowded into filthy wire cages so small they are unable to even spread their wings, walk, breath fresh air or engage in other basic natural behaviors," says Mercy For Animals Executive Director, Nathan Runkle. "Factory farms are not only cruel, but they are a breeding ground for disease."