Two animal welfare organizations, United Poultry Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, are petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate the deliberate starvation practice by the U.S. egg industry known as forced molting.
Forced molting--in which all food is withheld from laying hens for 1 to 2 weeks--has been shown to stress the immune system of these birds so severely that it promotes a systemic disease condition in the form of Salmonella enteritidis in hens used to produce consumption. As Salmonella enteritidis is the major contaminant in eggs--the number one cause of foodborne Salmonella poisoning--and this disease has been scientifically linked to the intentional starving of laying hens, we submit that the cruelty and contamination are linked so as to warrant the elimination of force molting in the United States, as was done in Great Britain in 1987
"Induced molting significantly depressed the cellular immune response and increased the severity of a concurrent intestinal Salmonella enteritidis (SE) infection," said Dr. Peter S. Holt, USDA immunologist, Athens, GA. "It created an actual disease state in the alimentary tract of affected hens," he said.
"Hens used for egg production are unprotected against the cruelest practices," said Dr. Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns and Dr. Nedim Buyukmichi, president of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights and professor of veterinary ophthalmology at the University of California-Davis.
"The starvation and the sickness are linked," they said. "Transmittable diseases are inevitable when you consider that there is not a single federal law in this country governing how animals are treated on the farm. This situation needs to change and forced molting is the place to start"
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