DES MOINES, Iowa - Leaders of the egg industry voted Tuesday to require that egg producers who use the "Animal Care Certified" logo on their cartons also include a Web site that gives information about what some claim is the inhumane treatment of hens.
The vote by the board of directors of the United Egg Producers was in response to a ruling issued a day earlier by the Better Business Bureau that called the logo misleading. The bureau's National Advertising Review Board said the egg industry should eliminate the logo or provide better information to consumers.
Consumers who saw the logo might be surprised to learn that the standards behind the Animal Care Certified tag still allowed confinement of hens in tiny cages, beak-clipping and forced starvation of the birds, the ruling said.
A spokesman for Atlanta-based United Egg Producers, the national trade group for egg producers, said the ruling was not a defeat for the industry.
"This group did not say stop using the seal, what they basically said is, 'Consumers don't understand what this seal means. You need to do a better job of explaining what it is,'" said spokesman Mitch Head.
The logo is a small black half-circle bearing the words "Animal Care Certified," with a red check mark in the middle. Head said producers who use it will now have to include the Web address www.animalcarecertified.com, which is run by the egg producers and contains information about the standards for chicken treatment that have been decried by the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing, which filed the complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
Head said the Web site will soon be relaunched to include more detailed information on treatment guidelines. He said the industry also is launching a $500,000 information campaign about the certification program.
Paul Shapiro, campaigns director for Compassion Over Killing, said the egg industry's steps don't go far enough.
"If they had a photo gallery showing what kind of abuse is allowed under the guidelines, that would at least be truthful," Shapiro said.
While the New York City-based Better Business Bureau can't force the egg industry to do anything, it has said it will review any changes to the marketing campaign in a few months. If they don't satisfy the bureau, it could send the case to the Federal Trade Commission or Food and Drug Administration for further review.