The Humane Society of the United States has applauded San Antonio-based Whataburger for joining the national movement away from eggs from caged hens. The company has announced that it will begin switching some eggs in its supply chain to cage-free in 2011.
“Whataburger’s new animal welfare policy means fewer hens crammed inside tiny cages,” said Matthew Prescott, corporate outreach director of The HSUS’ factory farming campaign. “The Humane Society of the United States applauds the company for taking this first step toward improving animal welfare, and we look forward to seeing more progress.”
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, Cracker Barrel and Golden Corral are just some of the restaurant chains that use cage-free eggs; Kraft, Sara Lee, Barilla Pasta, and Otis Spunkmeyer are switching millions of eggs in their products to cage-free; Hellmann‘s mayonnaise has started converting all of the 350 million eggs it uses in the U.S. to cage-free; and Wal-Mart’s and Costco’s private brand eggs are exclusively cage-free.
Michigan and California have passed laws to outlaw cage confinement of hens, and similar legislation is pending elsewhere. California enacted a law that requires all whole eggs sold statewide to be cage-free by 2015.
Whataburger’s conversion to cage-free eggs comes on the heels of an HSUS undercover investigation into a Waelder, Tex., egg factory farm owned by Cal-Maine Foods, the nation’s top egg producer, which exposed rampant abuse and food safety concerns at the facility.
Whataburger has nearly 700 restaurants in Texas and ten other states in the South and Southwest.
- 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 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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