Cage-free egg initiative qualifies for California ballot

June 23, 2018 GMT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California voters will decide in November whether egg-laying hens must live cage free.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla says an initiative setting standards for confining calves, pigs and hens is eligible for the ballot.

Businesses wouldn’t be allowed to sell meat and eggs raised in settings that don’t meet the standards. Its backers say extreme animal confinement is cruel and can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.

The cage-free hen requirement would take effect in 2021. That means the animal could roam freely in a space that also includes “enrichments” such as perches and scratch areas.

It sets minimum sizing for areas that confine breeding pigs and calves used for veal.

It builds off a 2008 voter-backed initiative that enhanced the standards for raising such animals.