If you have contacted Trader Joe's to protest about their
sale of factory farmed duck meat, you may have received a standard reply
from them. The following is Viva!s response to that reply. Please
use it to write or call Trader Joe's again - and again!
October 20, 2000
John Shields, CEO
P.O. Box 3270
538 Mission Street
South Pasadena, CA 91030
Dear Mr. Shields:
Although your company has yet to address Viva! directly about our concerns
over the selling of duck meat at your stores, we have received letters
you have been sending to consumers. First of all, I would like to say
that as a former customer of Trader Joes, I had always found employees
to be very helpful and willing to answer questions. It is a shame that
your corporate office is not run in the same manner. We had anticipated
an open dialogue with you and your company.
Earth Fare, a company that sells specialty foods, has chosen to discontinue
their selling of Grimaud duck meat from their stores. We hope that you
will do the same.
I am dismayed that a company like yours, after visiting these farms would
decide to continue to sell duck meat. Even a corporation like McDonalds,
not known for their welfare standards, has decided to do business with
suppliers who are more humane and have requested that suppliers of the
eggs they purchase no longer de-beak chickens. This change came about
because of public opinion, and it would seem that other corporations who
depend on the public for their profit and survival would be interested
in pursuing similar interests.
The International Hatchery Practice Journal (IHPJ) reported in 1994 that
Grimaud’s muscovy breeding ducks in France are kept in individual cages.
According Grimaud of California’s website (www.grimaud.com), Every
18 months the farm imports 3,000 eggs from France. The IHPJ article
goes on to say that the birds are artificially inseminated every two weeks.
Did your employees visit these farms as a surprise visit?
The birds have access to water mostly in the form of nipple drinkers and
a few bell drinkers. However, they do not allow water for swimming or
so that the ducks can immerse their heads. How does Trader Joes
justify this? This is a central question. As we showed in our report,
this lack of water can result in blindness and other problems for the
Water nipples were devised for chickens and are not suitable for ducks
- an aquatic bird that needs to drink larger amounts and to be able to
use water for cleaning. Many other countries, including the UK, do not
use nipple drinkers for ducks. In fact, the European Union’s Standing
Committee of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals for
Farmed Purposes in 1999 stated that water for bathing was necessary for
ducks in order to fulfill their biological requirements.
Your letter also states that ducks having their bills trimmed is similar
to fingernail clipping because there are no nerve endings in the tip of
the bills. Where did you get this evidence? This contradicts scientific
findings that ducks do indeed have nerve endings in the tip of the bill
and that this procedure of ‘bill trimming’ is quite painful. We cite two
scientific articles which state that the ducks do feel pain. Please see
page 11 of our duck report and citations 21 - 23 for our references. These
are not animal welfare groups we are quoting.
Even the UKs Ministry of Agriculture has stated that affected
ducks do feel pain.
You state that the birds have the ability to roam freely. According to
books on raising ducks - de-billing is a process done to prevent feather
pulling which is caused by intensive confinement. If they indeed were
roaming freely, they would not need to be de-billed.
Since your investigators went out to these farms they should be able to
attest that the footage Viva! provides did indeed come from the farms
and locations as we have stated.
Since you are satisfied with the conditions these ducks are kept in, could
you please arrange a visit for me to see these farms and also provide
information about the process these companies use to de-bill and slaughter