Because “Iowa Factory Farm” Doesn’t Sound Idyllic
Buy a dozen eggs from “Mountain Dairy,” “Sun Valley,” “Pacific Coast,” “Bayview,” or “Farm Fresh," among many other brands, and you may not just be buying eggs that could be contaminated with salmonella, but you’re supporting a company that, according to the New York Times, “has had run-ins with regulators over poor or unsafe working conditions, environmental violations, the harassment of workers and the hiring of illegal immigrants.”
Behind the nationwide recall of 380 million eggs is Galt, Iowa-based Wright County Egg, a company owned by factory-farming magnate Jack DeCoster, whose five Iowa poultry facilities house 7.5 million egg-laying hens that produce 2.3 million dozen eggs a week.
Which makes “Should I buy only ‘cage-free’ eggs?” this week’s top breakfast-conversation topic.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service claims there is no valid scientific evidence that eggs from cage-free hens have more or less salmonella than eggs from hens raised in cages. On the other hand, the Humane Society of the United States says that “[a]ll seven scientific studies published in recent years comparing Salmonella contamination between caged and cage-free operations show that confining hens in cages results in significantly increased risk of Salmonella."
That leaves consumers in a bit of a scramble.