This July 8, the international NGO Sinergia Animal launched an exclusive investigation that denounces animal cruelty and the social and environmental impacts of the egg supply chain of Carozzi, one of the largest food producers in Chile.
“Our investigative journalists found thousands of hens confined in very crowded spaces, with three to four birds per compartment, in a system known as battery cages, in barns of Agricovial, a supplier to Carozzi. The conditions of confinement of the animals, the dirt and the social problems that led to the closure of the farm are shocking," said Carolina Galvani, CEO of Sinergia Animal.
Public health risk
The investigation was conducted between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. Due to the closure of the farm in January 2020, more than 30,000 hens were being culled and stacked in garbage containers. According to a worker, the farm was ready to stop its activity due to bad odors and disturbances in the neighborhood.
“We have carried out this investigation because Chilean citizens have the right to know the truth about food production systems. We have evidence that, in this case, they negatively affect the lives of people and animals,” said Galvani.
Neighbors of the Agricovial barns in the town of ‘La Herrera’ have suffered the consequences of living near an industrial egg production unit. They report having to stay indoors, even in the summer, and using toxic substances to deal with the plague of flies, while suffering from symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting. "[The problems were] from the bad smells, which was disgusting, retching in the morning, several retching, as well as wanting to vomit. We used to say, 'Are we going to live like this all the time?'", remembers one of the neighbors of Agricovial interviewed by the NGO.
According to their testimonies, flies were the result of the lack of appropriate treatment of the hen's manure. "I arrived at the place where they were doing 'the management', it must be about five football fields complete of pure shit, where they accumulate it, literally. It seems to me that there is no sustainable management," explains Patricio Drago, director of a newspaper local who investigated the matter.
This is not the first time that Carozzi's provider has problems of this nature. According to one of Agricovial's workers, the company had to close other farms in the past due to the bad odors and fly infestation. Also, for environmental reasons, at the end of 2019 Agricovial was denied the construction of a mega poultry farm in the city of Molina (Maule Region, Chile).
In addition to the serious consequences for the population, the extreme confinement of animals in cages also involves risks for consumers. According to European Union studies, production facilities with cages are considerably more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella, compared to cage-free farms.
According to animal welfare experts, this type of confinement can cause constant frustration to hens and lead to painful bone pathologies such as osteoporosis, as animals are not even able to walk, fully stretch their wings, and perform their natural behaviors.
In addition, the hens were recorded stepping on the metal of the cages all the time, which according to various studies can cause pain and pathologies in their limbs, such as hyperkeratosis.
Carozzi ignores Chilean consumers' demand
Curently, in Chile, 98% of the national production of eggs comes from “battery cages”. But surveys indicate that 78% of Chileans would buy products that had an animal welfare seal that guaranteed that there was no cruelty or mistreatment in the production process.
Since 2017, the NGO Sinergia Animal has been campaigning for Carozzi, owner of renowned brands such as Ambrosoli, Trattoria, Costa and Master Dog, for the company to commit to not using eggs that come from cage systems in its products anymore. The online petition addressed to the company already has more than 115,000 signatures, but Carozzi has not publicly responded to the request.