Cal-Maine Foods

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Cal-Maine Foods is based in Jackson, Mississippi. The company is the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States. Cal-Maine produces a variety of specialty eggs (organic, Omega-3 enhanced, free range) which it sells to U.S. food retailers. Brand names include Egg-Land's Best and Farmhouse. The company controls all aspects of the business, including hatching chicks, making feed, housing hens egg distribution. Operations include three breeding facilities, two hatcheries, five distribution centers, 20 feed mills, 37 shell egg production operations, 26 pullet growing facilities and 35 processing and packing sites. [1]

In the fiscal year ending in May of 2010, the company reported sales of approximately 910 million dollars and had 1,950 employees. [2]


In fiscal 2009, Cal-Maine sold approximately 778 million dozen shell eggs, representing approximately 18% of domestic shell egg consumption. The company's approximately 27 million laying hens and 6 million pullets and breeders is the largest concentration of chickens in the U.S. Layers are mature female chickens and pullets are female chickens under 20 weeks of age. Breeders are male or female chickens used to produce fertile eggs to be hatched for laying hens. The company's primary business is production, grading, packaging, marketing and distribution of shell eggs. The eggs are sold in 29 states and marketed through an extensive retail distribution, distributing and egg product manufacturing network. Their shell eggs are sold to the majority of the large U.S. food retailers. Specialty shell eggs include nutritionally enhanced, cage free and organic eggs. In fiscal 2009, specialty shell eggs represented approximately 19% of sales. Brand names for specialty eggs include Egg-Land's Best, Farmhouse and 4-Grain. The company owns a 29.1% equity interest in Egg-Land's Best, which operates as a cooperative. Cal-Maine has an exclusive license agreement to market and distribute Egg-Land's Best in several states and major metropolitan areas. Cage-free eggs are marketed under the Farmhouse brand. Organic, all natural, cage-free, vegetarian and omega-3 eggs are marketed under the 4-Grain brand. Specialty eggs sales accounted for approximately 13.8% of total shell egg dozen volumes in 2009.

Since 1989, the completed sixteen acquisitions, ranging from 600,000 layers to 7.5 million layers. According to the company's website:

"There currently are 57 producers who each own more than one million layers and the ten largest producers own approximately 44% of total industry layers. We believe industry consolidation will continue and we plan to capitalize on opportunities as they arise." [3]

Animal welfare & food safety issues

Animal cruelty investigation

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In November of 2010, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released findings from a 28 day undercover investigation documenting rampant animal abuse and food safety threats inside a Cal-Maine owned factory farm in Waelder, Texas. The investigator described 18 barns which housed over a million laying hens. Each barn contained 10,272 cages. Incredibly, the company employed only five persons to oversee a total of 185,000 cages of hens. The investigation documented dead birds left in cramped cages; birds trapped in rusted cage wires, unable to reach food or water; injuries, eggs covered in blood and excrement and salmonella compromised eggs. Cages provide 67 square inches of space per hen; smaller than a piece of paper. According to HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle:

"Our latest farm animal investigation documents inhumane treatment of laying hens and conditions that threaten food safety. Time and again, we've found that these massive facilities caging hundreds of thousands of animals do not properly care for the birds or safeguard our food supply. It's time for the egg industry to embrace cage-free housing systems and move away from battery cage confinement methods."

The full report documented multiple abuses and food safety threats, including:

  • Birds trapped in cage wires, unable to reach food or water. Cage wires trapped hens wings, necks, legs and feet causing other birds to trample the weakened birds and a slow and painful death.
  • Injuries included bloody feet and broken legs from cage wires. Multiple birds live in a single, crowded cage. Each hen has only 67 square inches or less cage space than a sheet of paper to live in for over one year.
  • Hens suffering from painful uterine prolapse with other hens stepping on them.
  • Hens in bottoms cages covered in feces from hens in higher cages.
  • Eggs covered in blood and feces.
  • Abandoned hens roaming outside their cages.
  • Hens falling and drowning in manure pits.
  • Dead and rotting hens left in cages, trapped under feeders, on egg conveyor belts and on floors.

The European Union EI has banned battery cages as of 2013. California has banned them as of 2015 and Michigan has banned them as of 2019. In 2008, Cal-Maine donated $500,000 to oppose California's Proposition 2, which called for the phasing out of battery hen cages. Yet, according to Cal-Maine, they have been:

"a leader in accepting and implementing animal welfare issues."

Cal-Maine Foods is the main egg supplier for Publix Supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. In November, the company recalled 288,000 Salmonella tainted eggs under the labels of Sunny Meadows, Springfield Gracer, Sun Valley and James Farm.[4], [5] For a full report on the investigation, see also Undercover at the Largest U.S. Egg Producer.[6]

Animal welfare and food safety can be greatly improved by allowing freedom of movement and the ability to engage in natural behaviors. All thirteen of the most recently published studies, found higher Salmonella rates in cage systems. One 2010 study found a 20 times greater odds of Salmonella infection in caged systems. See also compilation of 13 studies: 2006 - 2010.[7] Approximately 95% of the 280 million laying hens in the U.S. are confined to battery cages. [8] No federal law protects farm animals from cruelty. The Federal Humane Slaughter Act requires that all animals (excluding birds) be stunned properly prior to slaughter. However, it carries no penalties and is rarely enforced. 30 U.S. states specifically exempt "customary or normal" farming practices from the legal definition of animal cruelty.[9]

See also animals raised & hunted for food on birds.

Law suit

In December of 2010, concerned residents of Travis County and Gonzales County, Texas, represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court against Cal-Maine Foods factory farm in Waelder, Texas. The company came under scrutiny in November following an undercover investigation which revealed appalling and illegal conditions and food safety threats.[10]

Food safety issues

Laying hens in battery cages

Iowa egg recall

In August of 2010, Cal-Maine recalled 800,000 dozen eggs related to an expanded recall tied to a Salmonella outbreak. An Iowa egg producer sold 32 truckloads of eggs, or about 800,000 dozen eggs to the company between April 9 and August 19. The affected products were added to an expanded nationwide recall related to almost 2,000 illnesses from the strain of salmonella reported between May and July of 2010. The number was almost 1,300 over the usual number of reported cases for salmonella poisoning for that period of time. The 800,000 dozen eggs accounted for approximately 0.3 % of its total sales for that period, according to the company. According to the company's President, Dolph Baker:

"Cal-Maine has been actively monitoring this situation, and as soon as we learned of the expanded recall, we immediately began notifying the affected customers. None of the eggs were produced in Cal-Maine's facilities or operations."

The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product. It can be life-threatening, particularly to those with weakened immune systems. According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chief Margaret Hamburg, the FDA is legally limited to a reactive stance on food safety. She argued that it needs a more "preventive approach" and that the FDA took the outbreak "very, very seriously." She urged Congress to pass pending legislation which would provide the agency with greater enforcing power:

"We need better abilities and authorities to put in place these preventive controls and hold companies accountable."

The two Iowa farms linked to the disease outbreak were Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, which share chicken and feed suppliers. In recent years, the egg industry has consolidated into fewer, larger companies which control the country's egg supply. [11]

Ohio egg recall

In November of 2010, Salmonella was found at an Ohio egg farm linked to the two Iowa egg farms responsible for a massive recall earlier in August. Although there were no reported illness, Cal-Maine recalled 24,000 dozen (or 288,000) eggs purchased from the supplier, Ohio Fresh Eggs, after a test revealed Salmonella at the farm. The Ohio Fresh eggs were distributed in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.[12], [13]

See also meat & dairy industry, sections 4 & 5 on CAFO's & health issues & Independent reports.


  • Fred Adams - Chairman
  • Richard Looper - Vice Chairman
  • Adolphus Baker - President, CEO & Director
  • Timothy A. Dawson - VP, CFO, Treasurer, Secretary & Director
  • Steve W. Sanders - Outside Director
  • Letitia C. Hughes, Outside Director
  • James E. Poole - Outside Director
  • Charles F. Collins - Vice President & Controller
  • Jeff Hardin - Vice President, Sales
  • David Jenkins - Vice President, Operations
  • James Neeld, III - General Counsel
  • Jack B. Self - Vice President, Operations-Production
  • Bob Scott - Vice President, Operations
  • Steve Storm - Vice President, Operations
  • Sherman Miller - Vice President, Operations
  • Matthew Arrowsmith - Vice President, Egg Sales
  • Kyle Morris - Vice President, Sales
  • Joe M. Wyatt - Vice President, Feed Mill Division
  • Jim Hull - Vice President, Egg Products [14]

Key executives & pay

  • Fred Adams (78) - Chairman - $250,000 with $375,000 bonus pay
  • Richard Looper (83)- Vice Chairman - $139,861 with $78,000 bonus pay
  • Adolphus Baker (53) - President, CEO & Director - $243,461 with $352,500 bonus pay [15]


Cal-Maine Foods
3320 Woodrow Wilson Ave.
Jackson, MS 39209
United States

Phone: 601-948-6813

Fax: 601-969-0905

Web address:

SourceWatch articles


  1. Company Description: Cal-Maine Foods, Hoovers, accessed December 2010
  2. Key Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. Financials, Hoovers, accessed December 2010
  3. About Cal-Maine Foods, Cal-Maine Foods, accessed December 2010
  4. Cheryl Hanna HSUS investigation of animal abuse and food safety at Cal-Maine Foods,, November 2010
  5. Appalling Animal Abuse and Food Safety Threats at Top Egg Producer: The HSUS' undercover investigation of Cal-Maine, Humane Society of the United States, November 2010
  6. Undercover at the Largest U.S. Egg Producer, HSUS Report, November 2010
  7. Cage Confinement of Laying Hens Increases Salmonella Risk: The thirteen studies published in the last five years comparing Salmonella rates in cage and cage-free egg facilities, HSUS, November 2010
  8. Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg Laying Flocks, United Egg Producers, Alpharetta, GA, 2008 Edition
  9. David J. Wolfson Beyond the Law: Agribusiness and the Systemic Abuse of Animals Raised for Food or Food Production, Farm Sanctuary, 1999
  10. Stephen Wells Cal-Maine's Cruelty Leads to Lawsuit, Animal Legal Defense Fund, December 2010
  11. Cal-Maine Adds 800,000 Dozen Eggs to Recall Nation's Largest Egg Seller Adds to Recall of More than Half a Billion Salmonella-Tainted Eggs, CBS News, Associated Press, August 2010
  12. Eggs Recalled After Salmonella Found at Ohio Farm, Fox News, Associated Press, November 2010
  13. Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. Conducts Voluntary Egg Recall, Food and Drug Administration, November 2010
  14. Leadership Team, Cal-Maine Foods, accessed December 2010
  15. Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. Executives, Hoovers, accessed December 2010

External articles