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    Wild Oats Supports 'Get Out of Jail' Card for Chickens

    BOULDER, Colo. -- Following discussions with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), natural and organic food retailer Wild Oats here has agreed to avoid the sale of eggs from caged birds in all of its 75 Wild Oats Natural Marketplaces in 23 states.

    BOULDER, Colo. -- Following discussions with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), natural and organic food retailer Wild Oats here has agreed to avoid the sale of eggs from caged birds in all of its 75 Wild Oats Natural Marketplaces in 23 states.

    Wild Oats said this decision makes it the nation's first major chain to formally implement a cage-free corporate policy for eggs. Wild Oats sold 1.6 million cartons of eggs in 2004.

    "Demand for improving the welfare of farm animals has never been higher," said Perry Odak, president and c.e.o. of Wild Oats Markets, Inc. "We are hopeful that our decision not to approve egg farmers who use caged birds for our national and regional product lists will encourage the egg industry to move in the direction of phasing out its use of battery cages, and shifting toward cage-free methods that take the animals' welfare into account."

    Approximately 98 percent of eggs sold in the United States come from birds confined in barren "battery cages" so small the animals can't even spread their wings or engage in other natural behaviors such as nesting, foraging, perching, and dust bathing. Despite this, battery cage egg production has increased over the last 50 years.

    "Birds in battery cages suffer immensely," said HSUS Factory Farming campaign manager Paul Shapiro. "Wild Oats has taken a bold step by avoiding the sale of eggs from caged birds, and we enthusiastically applaud their efforts to help reduce animal suffering."

    Wild Oats' decision also supports The HSUS's No Battery Eggs campaign, which is designed to encourage the egg industry to move away from caged egg production. To date, The HSUS said it has had success in encouraging university food service providers to switch to an exclusively cage-free egg supply. George Washington University has stopped selling battery cage eggs in its school store, for example, while food service providers AVI and Bon Appetit are testing cage-free egg sales on campuses they serve.

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