US firm Taco Bell has stolen a march on its fast-food restaurant rivals, announcing that it is to source all of its 130m eggs from cage-free system by the end of next year.
While it is one of the last quick-service restaurant chains to announce the switch, following a raft of statements by others earlier this year, its speed means that it will deliver on its commitment ahead of Burger King (2017), Starbucks (2020) and McDonald’s (2025).
Brian Niccol, chief executive of Taco Bell Corp, said the company had reached the decision following several years of planning.
“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.
“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.”
The announcement was welcomed by the Humane Society of the United States, which said the move would take 500,000 hens out of the caged sector.
Josh Balk, senior food policy director, said: “Taco Bell has catapulted itself ahead of other major restaurant chains. Switching to 100% 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.”
The company’s eggs will be verified as “American Humane Certified”, based on cage-free egg production standards set by the American Humane Association.
Taco Bell has 6,000 corporate- and franchise-owned outlets across the US.
It is a subsidiary of Yum Brands, which is also the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut. Neither of those restaurant chains has announced plans concerning cage-free egg use.