“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. That certainly is true when it comes to more humane housing for farm animals. Over the last few years, many companies have made announcements about phasing out cruel confinement systems, including battery cages, which confine egg-laying hens in spaces smaller than a piece of letter-sized paper. Battery cages are so small that hens can’t even spread their wings, and are prevented from engaging in natural chicken behaviors such as walking, perching, dust bathing and laying eggs in a nest.
Add Google Mexico to the list of companies that have eliminated battery cages from its supply chains. The company announced recently that it no longer serves eggs in its dining facilities from hens housed in battery cages. In Mexico, about 196 million egg-laying hens are raised every year, and most of them are raised in industrial facilities which confine the hens in battery cages.
“Google México takes corporate social responsibility seriously and is excited to be using cage-free eggs in our dining facilities in the country,” said Verónica García, facilities manager of Google México. “Not only do the animals enjoy better conditions in cage-free systems, but food safety is also improved when the birds are not confined in tiny cages.”
The venerable animal welfare organization, the Humane Society International is happy about Google Mexico’s announcement. “Humane Society International praises Google México for taking animal welfare seriously and joining the global movement away from barren battery cages,” said Gabriela Duhart, HSI’s campaign manager in México. “This is something that all egg-using corporations can do to improve animal welfare, and we look forward to working with other companies in Mexico on similar policies.” More and more governments and food retailers around the world are saying no to the cruel battery cages. Israel, Bhutan, India and the EU have either prohibited battery cages or are eliminating them.
In 2010, a California bill passed which outlawed the sale of whole eggs from caged hens in the golden state. A federal bill called the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 would phase in more space for hens so they can nest and perch.
A number of international companies have made commitments to increase their use of cage-free eggs, including Kraft, Burger King, and ConAgra Foods. Marriott International committed this year to switching to cage-free eggs by 2015. In 2011, Unilever, one of the largest food companies on the planet, committed to being 100 percent cage-free globally by 2020. Unilever is the first food manufacturer to make such a commitment. A number of American companies have also made commitments to cage-free egg supplies. Au Bon Pain, a restaurant chain in 26 states, committed to switching to cage-free eggs by 2017. Just this year several companies made announcements last year about switching to cage-free eggs, including Dunkin’ Brands, one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, and Burger King. Several supermarket chains, including Wal-Mart, Costco and Safeway, have increased their cage-free egg sales. Recently, Caribou Coffee announced that its most popular breakfast sandwich, which represents 20 percent of its breakfast sales, will now be cooked with 100 percent cage-free eggs.
Yes, clearly the moral arc of the universe is bending towards justice for hens which produce the eggs many of us love to eat.