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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans-brand eggs no longer carry the "Animal Care Certified" logo on their cartons, a change apparently made in response to questions raised by the Federal Trade Commission about possible consumer confusion over the designation's meaning.
Late last year, the Atlanta-based United Egg Producers had changed the wording of the designation from "Animal Care Certified" to "United Egg Producers Certified," after the FTC aired its concerns. The FTC has said that by March 31, 2006, the "Animal Care Certified" designation will be gone from all food retailers' shelves and replaced by the new logo.
The commission's action, in turn, came about as the result of a two-year campaign run by Takoma Park, Md.-based animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing to prevent the egg industry from using what it considered "misleading" terms on egg packaging. The group accuses egg manufacturers of using inhumane methods of production, including constricting birds to "battery cages."
Wegmans continues to designate its eggs as certified by the New York State Egg Quality Assurance Program, according to local press reports. Compassionate Consumers, a Rochester-based organization, maintains that the state's food safety program doesn't oversee animal welfare and could confuse shoppers who might assume that it does.
Wegmans spokeswoman Jeanne Colleluori told the Rochester Democrat and Guardian that the grocer's decision to drop the animal care designation doesn't reflect any change in treatment of its hens, and that Wegmans is still following the animal care guidelines of the United Egg Producers.
In 2004 three Compassionate Consumers activists broke into Wegmans' egg farm in Walcott, N.Y. to film video for a documentary about farm practices, taking away nine hens that they claimed were injured. The activists were arrested for burglary and are currently awaiting trial.