May 22, 2009
Wendy's Gets Applause for Its New Policy on Cage-Free Eggs
After lengthy discussions with The Humane Society of the United States, Wendy's announced today that it is starting to use cage-free eggs. This new policy marks a significant advancement in The HSUS' national campaign against cruel and inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens.
Previously, all eggs that Wendy's used came from hens confined in "battery cages," barren enclosures so tiny, the birds can barely move for their entire lives. Now the chain is using a minimum of 2 percent cage-free eggs, a modest but meaningful step in the right direction.
"The Humane Society of the United States applauds Wendy's for responding to customers' concerns about animal welfare and taking this positive step," stated Paul Shapiro, senior director of The HSUS' factory farming campaign. "Wendy's new policy is reducing the number of birds confined in cruel cages, and is sending a clear signal that it's time for the egg industry to move away from inhumane confinement."
McDonald's Still Lagging
Wendy's advancement is a sharp contrast to McDonald's policy of using eggs only from caged hens in the United States. Retailers such as Quizno's, Denny's, Burger King, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. also use cage-free eggs. Despite a cage-free egg policy in Europe, McDonald's-US still exclusively uses eggs from battery-caged hens.
At McDonald's annual meeting next Wednesday, a HSUS representative will urge shareholders to approve its resolution asking the company to start switching to cage-free eggs.
The trend towards cage-free eggs is nothing new. In a landslide November vote, Californians approved the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act—a new law making it a criminal offense (with a phase-out period) to confine hens in battery cages, pigs in gestation crates and calves in veal crates. Not only is California is the nation's top agricultural state, but it is McDonald's birthplace and home to hundreds of McDonald's locations.
Factory Farming Foibles
Currently, U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in barren battery cages so small, they can't even spread their wings. Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Although cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and may have parts of their beaks cut off, they can walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests—all behaviors denied to battery-caged hens.