There will be more hens in the U.S. that can escape being confined in spaces so small they can’t flap their wings. Two companies have recently committed to sourcing cage-free eggs. And as Josh Balk, director of food policy at the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), told TriplePundit: “This is certainly good news.”
One of those companies is the fast food chain Jack in the Box which plans to have its entire egg supply cage-free by 2025, according to its animal welfare report. The company has almost 3,000 restaurants in the U.S. and also owns Qdoba Mexican Eats, which has almost 700 restaurants.
“In response to evolving research on cage-free housing environments, and to consumers’ changing expectations and preferences, we have informed our egg suppliers of our expectation that they transition the majority of our egg supply to cage-free by 2020, and to fully transition to cage-free eggs by 2025,” the recently released report states.
“While, of course, five to 10 years is a long time for chickens to remain in cages, this is still great progress,” wrote Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) in a blog post. “And while cage-free, of course, does not solve all of the animal welfare problems in egg production, Jack in the Box’s announcement represents a major step forward.”Pacelle noted that 2015 “is the year that the nation decided to shed battery cages in favor of cage-free production.” He cited Taco Bell’s recent announcement that 100 percent of its 6,000 restaurants will use only cage-free eggs by Dec. 16.
General Mills is the second company to commit to sourcing cage-free eggs. In a recently updated animal welfare policy, the company committed to sourcing 100 percent cage-free eggs for all of its U.S. operations by 2025. “Eggs are an important ingredient in many of our products, and we strive to ensure that the hens laying these eggs are treated humanely,” the policy stated.
General Mills noted in its policy that Häagen-Dazs, its largest international business, already sources only cage-free eggs for all of the ice cream produced in Europe.
Both commitments “further demonstrate that these systems have no place in our country,” Balk said. He added that the two commitments are “going to affect many egg-laying hens.”
More recent surveys found similar results. A survey conducted in August 2015 by the Hartman Group found that 44 percent of those polled said they wanted to know more about how food companies treat the animals used in their products. Almost half (47 percent) said they support companies that avoid inhumane treatment of animals, a six-point increase from a similar survey in 2013. Sixty-five percent said they wanted animals raised in as natural an environment as possible.
Here are results from other surveys:
Consumers are becoming even more informed now. Balk attributes that to two things: media attention and social media. There have been numerous articles about animal welfare in general and the cages that house far too many hens in the U.S. There have also been undercover investigations. Before social media, organizations like HSUS would have to send out videos to news organizations and activists. Now, social media allows people anywhere to post videos from undercover operations and millions can see it. “It was impossible to do that before social media,” Balk said.
Image credit: Flickr/Matt MacGillivray
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.