DJ Steve Aoki and The Walking Dead’s Eleanor Matsuura are calling out Costco for selling caged eggs in Asia. The company ended the practice of buying eggs from caged hens in western countries in 2015, yet it has not stopped selling the eggs in Asia. In a recent letter, Aoki and Matsuura urged Costco to stop this practice and honor their own stance on animal cruelty.
Celebrities unite against Costco
In 2015, several high-profile celebrities spoke out against Costco’s practice of selling eggs produced by caged hens. Brad Pitt and Bill Maher penned separate letters asking Costco president Craig Jelinek to stop buying eggs from farms that cage their hens.
“As you know, these birds producing eggs for your shelves are crammed five or more into cages that are not large enough for even one hen to spread her wings,” Pitt noted.
Maher later sent a statement to The New York Times slamming the practice of caging hens. Maher stated that if companies did the same to dogs or cats then it would immediately result in “cruelty charges.” But in the case of the egg industry, it is “business as usual.”
Costco did not issue a direct response to Pitt and Maher’s letters. The company did, however, release a statement condemning those who mistreat animals and assured its customers that they are “committed to the ethical treatment of animals.”
The company later agreed to stop selling eggs from caged hens in the United States, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Mexico, Spain, and France. Although this was a step in the right direction, Costco still supports farms that raise caged hens throughout Asia.
A look at cage-free eggs
There are important differences between hens that are raised in cages and those that have the freedom to roam. Although farmers can better protect and monitor caged hens, putting these birds in tight quarters prevents them from engaging in natural behavior.
This includes things like dust bathing, foraging, and walking. The cages also prohibit hens from roosting and nesting, and they normally will not show signs of comfort, like stretching, wagging their tails, shaking, or flapping their wings.
In some cages around the world, hens get trapped in the wires and the close quarters result in foot issues and overgrown claws.
Cage-free hens, however, are given considerably more space to roam and display all the natural behaviors that caged hens do not. These hens are raised in a different environment, however, then free-range hens, which are given access to an outside area.
Although Costco has stopped buying eggs produced by caged hens in western countries, the company has yet to ban the practice in all of its stores around the world — something that Matsuura and Aoki addressed in their recent letter.
Eleanor Matsuura and Steve Aoki ask Costco to stop selling caged-eggs
The letter addressed to Jelinek starts by praising Costco’s efforts in eliminating the sales of caged-eggs in stores throughout several western countries. But Matsuura and Aoki took issue with the fact that the company still sells caged-eggs in a handful of countries in Asia.
The acclaimed DJ and The Walking Dead star noted that eggs from caged farms are still sold at Costco stores in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. They believe that this contradicts the company’s “own animal welfare policy,” which states that all animals should be allowed the “freedom to exhibit natural behavior.”
“It is also a double standard that puts Asian customers at increased risk,” the letter continued. “As you know, studies from a dozen different research teams including the European Food Safety Authority have found caged egg farms have dramatically higher rates of salmonella contamination than cage-free farms.”
Matsuura and Aoki went on to say that they believe Asian customers should have the right to buy eggs that are of the same quality as people have access to in the west. They also slammed the company’s decision to continue this practice in Asia as “unacceptable.”
The two pointed out that most retailers in Asia have already corrected this issue and that Costco is already behind the curve. Costco has yet to respond to Matsuura and Aoki’s letter regarding their practice of selling caged-eggs in Asia.