Kraft Miracle Whip is a household staple full of less-than wholesome ingredients produced in ways that put people, animals, pollinators, and the planet at risk. Half of the ingredients are likely produced from GE crops. The eggs are also problematic because Kraft sources them from factory farms where they are fed diets high in GMOs, as well as live in inhumane conditions.
Concerns about Eggs and CAFOs
Corporate and Geographic Consolidation
Gone are the days of pastures, barns, field crops, and farm animals. Eggs are produced in industrial operations with hundreds of thousands of laying hens in each facility, growing by nearly 25 percent from 1997 to 2007. Nearly half of egg production is concentrated in five states: Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, California, and Pennsylvania. Egg operations have grown in size by 50 percent in the same ten-year period, averaging 750,000 hens per factory farm. Though headquartered in Mississippi, Cal-Maine is the largest egg producer in the United States, selling 685 million dozen eggs in 2007 with a flock of 23 million hens.
The manner in which laying hens are raised directly affects their wellbeing and health.Egg-laying hens are subjected to mutilation, confinement, and deprivation of the ability to live their lives as the active, social beings they are. More than 90 percent of eggs in the US are produced in confinement conditions. Welfare abuses run rampant in egg CAFOs including: killing male chicks upon hatching because they have no value to the egg industry, debeaking young female chicks causing severe pain, living in battery cages with the equivalent of less than a sheet of paper of floor size, being subjected to a process called “forced molting” where hens are starved and deprived of food for up to two weeks to shock their bodies into the next egg-laying cycle, and slaughtering them after their egg production declines in 1-2 years even though the lifespan of an industry chicken would be 5-8 years.
There is growing concern about the living conditions in which food animals are raised; however, there is little oversight when it comes to product labels, as we have recently seen in the news regarding the label “natural”. The majority of egg labels have no official standards or oversight or enforcement mechanisms, nor much relevance to animal welfare. Labels include: cage-free, free-range, free-roaming, pasture-raised, certified organic, vegetarian-fed, and more. The highest-welfare eggs come pasture-raised with certification from Animal Welfare Approved. Unfortunately, few farms are certified to this standard. Check out the organization’s mobile app to find products near you.
Even certified organic is not without flaws. According to a report by Cornucopia, industrial-scale organic egg producers, with facilities holding as many as 85,000 hens each, provide 80 percent of the organic eggs on the market. This means that less than half of a percent of egg-laying hens in this country are on pasture-based farms. Therefore, it is important to dig deeper and do research into the company. Local producers offer a shorter supply chain and more transparency.
The eggs Kraft Miracle Whip sources come from factory farms and do not have any animal welfare certifications. Hellmann’s at least uses cage-free eggs; while that still results in thousands of hens are kept in an indoor structure with little to no access to outdoor grazing, it does not use battery cages.
Public and Environmental Health
Poor living conditions directly impact public and environmental health. Large-scale factory farm operations produce more than just that little white orb used in baking recipes and for brunch dishes; they are also breeding grounds for disease and pollution.
Large hen facilities house hundreds of thousands of animals in each structure and result in Salmonella poisoning of eggs. Due to a Salmonella outbreak in 2010 where close to 2,000 cases in three months were reported, the US experienced the largest shell egg recall in history—half a billion eggs. While Salmonella rates are higher in battery cage systems, it is still a problem for cage-free facilities due to the sheer number of hens living in such close quarters.
As seen in other factory farm operations for pigs and cows, chicken CAFOs produce higher levels of waste than can be disposed of in a timely and environmentally responsible manner. The imbalance of a large number of animals in an increasingly smaller space causes mountains of fecal matter to pile up. Ammonia levels increase, negatively impacting air quality by creating particles inhaled by animals and people and producing unpleasant odors. Elevated ammonia levels also negatively impact water quality, running off into local streams and rivers. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), ammonia can be carried more than 300 miles through the air before returning to the ground and then into waterways. The nutrients in runoff from animal waste can then cause algal blooms, which use up the water’s oxygen supply killing all aquatic life, leading to “dead zones.” Dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico are growing larger every year, in addition to those along the East Coast.
In addition to having a devastating impact on aquatic life, industrial egg production also contributes to climate change. After assessing the lifecycle of eggs from “cradle-to-grave” production, the Environmental Working Group reported that consuming two extra-large eggs isequivalent to driving a car more than one mile.
Kraft, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and GMO Labeling Opposition
Not only is Miracle Whip made of bad ingredients, its parent company, Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (formerly Kraft Foods Inc.), has its own tainted history.
Kraft has a long sordid history of company mergers and name changes. In 1915, J. L. Kraft and his brothers began producing processed cheese in tins. This is the company that created the epitome of processed food in America: Kraft Singles American Cheese. In 1988, Kraft, Inc. becomes a part of Philip Morris Companies, Inc., a company made infamous for cigarettes. In 2011, Kraft Foods announced its intent to split into two independent, publically traded companies, Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and Mondelez International, Inc. The new Kraft Foods Group is focused mainly on grocery products for the North American market, while Mondelēz is an international distributor of Kraft Foods snacks and confectionery brands. In March, 2015, 2015 Kraft Foods Group Inc, announced that it would merge with ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co, owned by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway Inc., contributing to the problem of corporate consolidation by forming the world's fifth-largest food and beverage company. The new company is called The Kraft Heinz Company.
In addition to providing processed foods and continuously changing ownership, Kraft (under various legal names) has been a big player when it comes to funding opposition to state GMO labeling campaigns. Kraft gave $1.95 million to oppose California’s Prop 37. Though Kraft Foods Group did not contribute directly to oppose Initiative 522 in Washington in 2013, it is still a dues-paying member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). The other Kraft spin off company, Mondelez Global, LLC gave $210,335. Kraft got back into the game in 2014 by spending a total of $1.9 million in Measure 92 in (OR) and Prop 106 (CO).
GMO Inside released an updated mayonnaise scorecard showing how various major brands measure up in terms of GMO ingredients, prevalence of eggs from CAFOs, and sustainability. Within the scorecard you will find better alternatives and highlight which brands to avoid. We also posted recipes for making homemade mayonnaise to give consumers the ultimate ability to control the quality of ingredients used to make the ever-present spread.
*For our purposes, the term mayonnaise includes mayonnaise and mayonnaise-like products known as salad dressings that contain either whole or powdered eggs.