single egg in carton

Why Is the Price of Eggs Suddenly So Much Higher?



The reason might not be what you think.

If you have been to the grocery store recently, you may have noticed the drastic spike in the cost of eggs and egg products. This recent rise in price has captured a great deal of attention from the media and the public. While many may attribute the issue to inflation, and others are even misleadingly placing the blame on new laws requiring producers in certain states to shift to cage-free systems, it’s important to bring attention to the primary cause of these current price spikes: outbreaks of avian flu that killed tens of millions of animals in factory farms.

What is avian flu and how does it impact egg-laying hens?

Avian influenza, more commonly known as “bird flu,” is a highly virulent disease that can cause severe illness and death in many bird species (some strains of bird flu are zoonotic, meaning they can pass from birds to humans).

Last year, several outbreaks of avian flu caused the deaths of over 50 million laying hens raised by the egg industry in several states. Avian flu strains can infect wild birds and birds raised for food alike. But, the mass production of chickens in factory farms means that outbreaks are incredibly disastrous, compounding the suffering the animals already endure in factory farms.

Hens on factory farms spend their lives in cramped cages, with as many as ten birds per cage, or packed together in crowded barns with thousands of other hens. They are bred for productivity traits, like increased egg-laying ability, which can lead to compromised health and immunity.

These conditions create a perfect breeding ground for viruses to evolve and spread rapidly. Factory farms also increase the likelihood that a single outbreak can quickly result in the suffering and death of tens of millions of individual, sentient animals.

animal farming

Egg-laying hens in cages on a factory farm.

If that isn’t terrible enough, when an outbreak is detected in a flock, the industry in the US is allowed to use horrific methods to kill the animals in an effort to stop the spread. Water-based foam (a foam that, when sprayed, obstructs the bird’s airways) is commonly used for chickens in factory farms, a death similar to suffocation that can take several minutes.

That shocking price at the checkout is largely due to a cruel industry that refuses to change.

Without a transformative change in our food systems, viruses such as this will continue to emerge, spread, and evolve to cause unnecessary suffering to animals.

How can you help?

We can all do our part by swapping out eggs for plant-based alternatives. There are many delicious and simple ways to replace eggs in our diet and decrease the demand for hens to be raised on factory farms.

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