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In an effort to eradicate inhumane battery cage farms for hens, the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI) – a multi-faith environmental NGO – has launched a public campaign urging restaurant giant, Famous Brands to commit to go "cage-free" for all its hens and their eggs by 2025. The campaign was kicked-off with a petition earlier this month.

SAFCEI's campaign lead, Mandla Gqamlana says that popular SA restaurants in the Famous Brands group – such as Wimpy, Mugg&Bean, Steers, and House of Coffees, among others – will be targeted. The goal, adds Gqamlana, is to ensure that the sourcing of cage-free eggs forms part of the group's policy, for all franchisees.

Gqamlana says, "Battery cage farming subjects hens to unnecessary cruelty, distress, discomfort and extreme pain. The hens spend their entire lives in a wire box the size of an A4 paper and never see sunlight or take a breath of fresh air. They end up suffering from diseases, feather loss and broken bones, as a result of being confined in these cages. This is the life of hens that produce the eggs that we, the consumer, end up eating."

Hens lay egg after egg with no space to spread their wings, nest, walk or perch. In addition to this completely unnatural environment, the hens' laying cycles are also manipulated through starvation, to increase production. Furthermore, in South Africa it is also standard practice to de-beak hens.

"We have engaged Famous Brands management team since last year, but they have only given a number of excuses for not being able to make the transition. However, we cannot accept this. If McDonalds South Africa can commit to going cage-free, why can't they?"

"Think about Wimpy, for example, which currently has 478 stores around the country. Can you imagine the amount of eggs consumed every year? And, if we are what we eat, how can we expect our nation to happy from eggs that are produced with such violence?"

"While the organisation cites integrity, innovation and quality as some of its core beliefs, and also pride themselves on their supplier relationships, Famous Brands is yet to use its influence to ensure humane animal welfare standards – which will provide the quality of food its consumers deserve."

In its code of ethics, the organisation acknowledges its responsibility toward the environment and claims to be "committed to minimising adverse environmental impacts and seeking opportunities to improve performance." Famous Brands also claims to value ethical leadership – which should anticipate and prevent any negative consequences its activities could have on the environment.

In addition to the unhealthy situation for the animals, battery farming also poses a number of risks to human health, contributing to an increase in Salmonella-infected eggs. Battery cage farms also cause air and water pollution. On the other hand, ethical farming practices means healthier hens and better quality eggs, and since it also requires more manpower, it will create more jobs.

"SAFCEI is challenging Famous Brands to leverage its influence in its supply chain and demand ethically farmed produce, such as hens that are cage-free. Our commitment is inspired by diverse faith teachings. We view animal welfare and care for nature as an expression of each person's faith."

Watch this video to see just how battery farmed eggs are produced -


Issued by Natasha Adonis, on behalf of SAFCEI.