After we called out the “Humane Society” of the United States last week for milking the egg recall in the interest of animal rights, we thought the group might shape up. Instead, HSUS has boldly (and ridiculously) continued to repeat its claim that “every scientific study” in recent memory has linked commonly used hen cage systems with a higher incidence of Salmonella. Today, HSUS announced an advertising campaign centered on that same blatantly false talking point. And we’re firing back with a press release exposing HSUS’s cherry-picking and reckless disregard for the very scientific literature it cites:
A 2005 study cited by HSUS disagrees with the group’s claims from the very beginning, concluding that “the system with the lowest chance of infection was the cage system with wet manure.” And a 2008 study—again, cited by HSUS—concluded “no significant differences could be found in prevalence of Salmonella between laying hens reared in conventional and enriched cages and [free-range] aviary.”
Many of the other studies cited by HSUS caution that differences between cage and cage-free chickens may be due to factors other than the housing system, such as flock size or vaccination rates. By ignoring the scientific conclusions that it doesn't like, HSUS is recklessly misleading consumers and the media.
Other studies, ignored by HSUS entirely, tell a story that HSUS is not eager to promote. One 2004 study, for example, conducted by the British government, sampled nearly 5,000 eggs and found “no statistically significant difference … between the prevalence of Salmonella contamination in samples from different egg production types.”
We hoped HSUS wouldn’t play Russian Roulette with its already dwindling credibility over something this obvious. But HSUS might want to spend part of its $132 million budget on a few fact-checkers. It would certainly be more productive than repeating the same thing over and over, and hoping it magically becomes true.