Yum Brands’ Taco Bell may be late to the drive-thru window when it comes to making a commitment to using cage-free eggs—McDonald’s and Burger King have had commitments in place for years—but it’s going to be the first chain to actually do it.
The company announced this week that by the end of 2016, all of the U.S. Taco Bell locations will be using cage-free eggs—about 130 million eggs per year. Burger King set a 2017 deadline, and McDonald’s says it will take a full decade to complete its transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs. Starbucks and Panera have announced 2020 deadlines to make the shift.
“We are a brand that has our finger on the pulse of not only what appeals to our customers’ tastes but also the issues they care most about, and they tell us they want food that’s simple and easy to understand,” Brian Niccol, CEO, Taco Bell Corp. said in a statement on the company’s website. “Implementing this change at record pace underscores that we are always listening and responding to our customers, while doing what is right for our business.”
While Yum Brands says the company has been working on a Taco Bell strategy to move to cage-free eggs for some time, the animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming says a petition may have egged the chain on.
According to Compassion in World Farming, the group launched a change.org petition in Mid-October, asking Taco Bell to go cage-free.
“We are thrilled Taco Bell listened to the nearly 170,000 consumers who signed,” the group said in a statement.
“We commend Taco Bell for going completely cage-free in a little over a year,” Compassion in World Farming’s U.S. Food Business Manager Rachel Dreskin said in a statement. “ This is the first significant announcement they have made regarding animal welfare in the US. Taco Bell caters to a diverse customer base, and this announcement demonstrates that treating animals with respect is a value that is shared across the entire population.”
The move also earned praise from the Humane Society. “Taco Bell has catapulted itself ahead of other major restaurant chains. Switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by the end of 2016 is a tremendous commitment that will quickly improve the lives of countless animals and further cement the future of egg production as being one without cages,” said Josh Balk, Senior Food Policy Director, The Humane Society of the United States.
Taco Bell also earned praise from its customers earlier this year when it announced a comprehensive vegetarian-friendly menu.
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