It's not a good news day for consumers of chicken or their eggs: Nicholas Kristof digs into findings out today, courtesy of the Humane Society, spawned from yet another undercover investigation into factory farms. The target of this one: Kreider Farms, which pumps out 4.5 million eggs daily. Among the revelations, per the undercover worker: The manure pits found below some barns produce so much ammonia it's tough to breathe; mice scurry along conveyor belts; hens get accidentally decapitated by a feeding cart and are often left to rot; oh, and salmonella has been found in that manure.
Kreider's president dispels the allegations point by point, and Kristof himself, a former farmboy, acknowledges that he doesn't "particularly empathize with chickens." But he thinks it's time we "agree on minimum standards"—which the industry's main trade association and Humane Society did last year in regards to the space hens are given. But Kreider doesn't belong to the association, and "the legislation faces strong resistance," Kristof writes in the New York Times. Kristof acknowledges that it's tough to define what the standards should be, especially since, as Kreider's president says, "When dealing with millions of birds, there is always a small percentage of dead birds." But "police would stop wayward boys who were torturing a stray dog, so should we allow industrialists to abuse millions of hens? Somehow, fried eggs don’t taste so good if you imagine the fetid barn in which they were laid." Click for Kristof's full column.