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April 20, 2011

General Mills Announces New Cage-Free Egg Commitment

On the heels of the release of its 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, food manufacturing giant General Mills announced a new cage-free egg purchasing program, prompting praise from The Humane Society of the United States. The company has committed to switch 1 million of its eggs to cage-free.  

General Mills is the latest in a growing list of food manufacturers that are moving away from eggs from hens confined in cages, which provide each bird less space than a sheet of paper on which to spend her entire life. 

“General Mills and the food manufacturing industry are helping the push to move the egg industry away from confining hens in cruel and inhumane cages,” said Josh Balk, director of corporate policy for The HSUS’ factory farming campaign. “The Humane Society of the United States applauds General Mills for improving the lives of animals with this important step.”

Prior to this announcement, General Mills committed to moving all the eggs in its Häagen-Dazs product line in Europe to cage-free. Major food manufacturers Kraft, Otis Spunkmeyer and Sara Lee are switching millions of eggs in their products to cage-free. Unilever recently adopted a policy to convert 100 percent of its eggs to cage-free, including the 350 million eggs used annually by Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Major restaurant chains—including Subway, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Sonic, Quiznos, Hardee’s, Carl's Jr. and Red Robin—use cage-free eggs. And supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, Costco and Safeway have taken steps to increase cage-free egg sales.  

California and Michigan have passed laws to outlaw the cage confinement of hens, and California passed a law requiring all whole eggs used in the state to be cage-free by 2015.  

Facts

  • 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, and an American Farm Bureau-funded report found that 89 percent of Americans believe that food companies that require their suppliers to treat farm animals better are doing the right thing. 
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