US Restaurant chains seem to be highly ambitious. More and more restaurants continue with the announcement to serve cage-free eggs. The latest tycoon to join the league is Taco Bell. The fast food pioneer has been known for its generous and revolutionary experiments. Whether it is turning a waffle into a taco, stationing a bouncer outside the alcohol-serving Chicago location, or the latest offer of a beverage version of Starburst candy, Taco Bell knows how to turn heads.
The fast food chain has now made a new announcement to be a part of the big animal-welfare movement. Taco Bell will only serve cage-free eggs henceforth. The company says that by December 2016, it will only serve 100% cage-free eggs at more than six thousand US locations. This decision will affect half a million chickens.
Taco Bell plans to bring it to immediate effect
Taco Bell, a subsidiary of YUM Brands, is trying to implement the change from the immediate effect. The plan is to serve exclusively cage-free eggs by December 31st 2016. The fast food dynamo might become the first restaurant to completely implement the change.
The news comes as a pleasant surprise because of the quick actions Taco Bell seems to take in these regards. Other restaurants have also made the announcement, but they plan to implement it with a very long delay. Panera Bread has high animal welfare standards that go beyond egg-laying hens, including commitments for pigs, poultry, and cattle. Panera Bread and Starbucks plan to achieve the landmark by 2020, while McDonald’s goal is to reach the stage of 100% cage-free eggs over the next decade.
Earlier, YUM Brands was criticized as the only major fast food company that refuses to fix how it gets its food. Reacting to the statement, Taco Bell, a YUM Brand, has finally decided to be a part of the Animal Welfare Initiative. It expects to be the first national quick service restaurant to completely implement the change.
Animal welfare: the new urgency
YUM Brand told the media, “Right now, more than 94% of egg-laying hens in the US spend their lives in battery cages with less floor space than a typical sheet of paper per bird (battery cages were banned in Europe in 2012). They don’t even have enough space to spread their wings. While United Egg Producers, a US egg industry trade group, says that this is ample space to ‘optimize animal welfare’ and that it provides a ‘safe, comfortable environment,’ groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) disagree, saying the chickens are ‘among the most intensively confined animals in agribusiness.’”
Though when asked that whether it’s other brands, Pizza Hut and KFC, will also follow the suit and implement animal-welfare related changes, YUM officials did not give an immediate response.
The chief food innovation officer, Liz Matthews stated that delivering a sustainable and safe egg supply to Taco Bell restaurants nationwide in one year is possible due to the brand’s large yet flexible infrastructure, along with years of close collaboration with their partners. Apart from the 100% cage-free eggs, Taco Bell also confirmed that by the end of 2016, it will try to deliver on its stated goal of removing artificial flavors and colors, added trans fat, high-fructose corn syrup, and unsustainable palm oil from its core menu items. The company wants to ensure ingredient transparency to the next generation of Taco Bell customers.