Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law yesterday requiring all eggs sold in California to come from hens who were able to stand up, lie down, turn around freely, and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure.
In effect, this landmark egg bill means that all eggs sold for consumption in the state will be "cage-free" beginning January 1, 2015. This is great news -- not only for the hens, of course, but for the health of egg consumers.
The new bill, A.B. 1437, follows a 2008 voter initiative -- Proposition 2 -- which phases out the intensive confinement of hen-laying eggs by 2015. Roughly 63 percent of voters passed Prop. 2, so the ethical treatment of animals and food safety are obviously issues of importance to the majority of California voters.
Proponents of the bill -- including the Humane Society, Sierra Club California, Planning and Conservation League, and Center for Food Safety -- argue that cage-free eggs are healthier than eggs from hens crammed into tiny cages. They claim that the stress from living in such tight and putrid conditions increases the risk of salmonella and other diseases. Opponents, however, argue that this bill will likely raise the cost of eggs.
I, for one, do not mind paying extra for eggs if it means that the hens are treated better and their eggs are safer for consumption.
Do you agree?
Image via themissiah/Flickr