A group of 30 protestors from a national organization called Mercy for Animals (MFA) lined Pleasanton's Stoneridge Mall Road in front of Safeway headquarters Monday calling on the grocery chain to follow others in adopting a "cage-free" merchandising policy.
Jeni Haines, the group's national campaign coordinator, urged the company to improve animal welfare by eliminating cages in its egg supply chain with a 100% cage-free egg policy for all its stores and affiliate grocers.
She said the group is making the same demands on Boise-based Albertsons, Safeway's corporate owner.
Protestors wielded signs bearing disturbing images of injured chickens trapped in cages and the message "Safeway Tortures Animals." The eye-catching protests in Pleasanton continued at Safeway stores Tuesday in San Jose and Wednesday in Sacramento.
"Stuffed into cages so small the birds can't walk, spread their wings or engage in other natural behaviors, hens on egg factory farms are subjected to unspeakable cruelty and neglect," Haines said.
"Each bird has less floor space than the size of a sheet of notebook paper," she added. "Many birds become trapped and painfully mangled in the cage wire or under feed trays. Dead hens are often left to rot alongside birds still laying eggs for human consumption."
The protest group claims that Safeway's competitors, including Target and Costco, as well as McDonald's and Starbucks, have already made public commitments to eliminating cages. In fact, MFA contends, nearly 100 other major restaurants, retailers, food manufacturers and food service companies have pledged to go cage-free.
Since the launch of MFA's campaign just a week ago, MFA president Nathan Runkle said more than 30,000 consumers have signed Change.org petitions urging Safeway to go cage-free.
Drivers honked in support of Haines and her group standing on Stoneridge Mall Road on Monday, but no representatives from Safeway met with the group during its two-hour demonstration.