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New Animal Welfare Policy Takes off at Virgin America: A Switch to Cage-Free Eggs

The Humane Society of the United States applauded San Francisco, Calif.-based Virgin America for joining the national cage-free egg movement. Effective this month, the company switched to exclusively using eggs from hens not crammed inside tiny cages.

“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Virgin America for not supporting the confinement of egg-laying hens in cages packed so tightly they can’t even extend their wings,” said Kristie Middleton, corporate outreach manager for The HSUS’ factory farming campaign. “We hope others in the transportation industry follow Virgin America’s lead, which will improve the lives of thousands of hens each year.”

Frances Fiorillo, senior vice president for people and in-flight services for Virgin America, stated, “Virgin America understands that animal welfare and sustainability are increasingly important to travelers, which is why we're proud to exclusively feature cage-free eggs on our in-flight menu.”

Across the country, a national movement away from using eggs from hens confined in cages has taken root: Burger King, Subway, Sonic, Wendy's, Arby’s, Denny's, Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Quiznos and Golden Corral are just some of the major restaurant chains that use cage-free eggs; Wal-Mart's and Costco's private brand eggs are exclusively cage-free; and Hellmann's mayonnaise announced plans to convert the 350 million eggs it uses in the U.S. to cage-free.

Michigan and California have passed laws to outlaw cage confinement of hens, and similar legislation is pending elsewhere. California recently enacted a law that requires all whole eggs sold statewide to be cage-free by 2015.


  • U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in cages so small, they can't even spread their wings. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes suffering.
  • Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and, like caged hens, may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests—all behaviors permanently denied to hens crammed into cages. 
  • Factory farming is a major social issue: A study by food industry consultancy, Technomic, ranked animal welfare as the third-most important social issue to restaurant patrons; an American Farm Bureau-funded report found that 89% of Americans believe that food companies that require their suppliers to treat farm animals better are doing the right thing; and a Citigroup report found that cruelty to animals presents a “headline risk” to restaurant companies.   


Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching “HumaneTV” in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at humanesociety.org.

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