ALDF Sues FDA for Information About Factory Egg Farms
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit this week asking a federal court to compel the Food and Drug Administration to produce inspection reports of factory egg farms without censoring important information about the hen population and living conditions.
The Freedom of Information Act provides private citizens and organizations with access to government records. The purpose of the law is to ensure government transparency and give back information obtained with taxpayer funding. But the FDA feels differently and is withholding information from ALDF.
ALDF requested records under this law from the FDA in December of 2011. The records included recent inspection reports of factory egg farms in Texas. The factory farms house tens of thousands of egg-laying hens in crowded cages lining the inside of giant industrial barns. These conditions cause terrible suffering for the birds and an increased risk for the outbreak of diseases like salmonella and bird flu. The FDA is required to inspect these farms to monitor for these diseases.
When the FDA gave ALDF the inspection reports, it censored critical information about the hen population and living conditions. This information is necessary to understand the welfare of the animals as well as the risk of disease outbreaks that affect human health and safety. ALDF sent a letter to the FDA in March pointing out that the need for public access to this information outweighs any reason to censor the reports. The FDA continues to refuse providing that information.
Left with no choice, ALDF filed the lawsuit asking a judge to order production of the reports without unnecessary censorship. ALDF expects that this case will force the agency to reconsider its values that put corporate interests above the public interest in greater transparency of factory farm conditions.