On Thursday, Taco Bell became the sole US company to be recognized by Compassion in World Farming’s 2020 Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards. Taco Bell received the Good Egg Award, which since 2007 has recognized companies that use or have committed to use 100% cage-free eggs or egg products within five years.
Although this year’s awards ceremony at the Tower of London was cancelled due to COVID –19 safety concerns, Compassion still celebrates those companies committing to higher animal welfare. This year, 34 awards were given across the UK, EU, China, and the US, cumulatively set to benefit the lives of 28 million animals each year. This takes the overall impact of Compassion’s Food Business program to date—across all awards, partnership projects, and corporate pledges—to over 2 billion animals set to benefit annually.
After a few years of planning, Taco Bell was one of the first national quick service restaurants to commit to going cage-free in 2015. The move supported a timely Change.org petition that garnered 170,000 signatures asking that Taco Bell make the switch. Incredibly, it only took one year to make the transition to serving 100% cage-free eggs on their breakfast menu and three years for their entire U.S. and Canada supply chain to switch to 100% cage-free eggs. Nearly every other major food retailer and restaurant chose to transition to cage-free over a ten-year timeline.
Taco Bell not only committed to using cage-free eggs in their breakfast menu, but also for any ingredients containing eggs, such as sauces and Cinnabon® Delights™, and even limited time offer ingredients.
In the US, 26 percent of laying hens currently live in cage-free systems. More work needs to be done, but when major companies like Taco Bell listen to their consumers and step up for animals, the result is real, meaningful progress towards a more compassionate food future.
“Taco Bell is proud to have our animal welfare efforts recognized with the 2020 Good Egg Award,” reports Missy Schaaphok, Sr. Manager, Global Nutrition and Sustainability at Taco Bell. “We believe it is our responsibility to identify challenges that impact our supply chain and our customers, and to be a part of solutions, which is why we have been serving only 100% cage-free breakfast eggs since 2016 and egg ingredients since 2018. We look forward to continued supplier and stakeholder collaboration as we spearhead industry-leading efforts, all so that fans don’t have to choose between crave-ability and responsibility at Taco Bell.”
Taco Bell has also done their due diligence to ensure their egg producers do not use any caged housing systems, including so-called “combi cages.” Combi cages represent a growing threat to the cage-free egg movement, as they allow cage-free barns to easily revert to a caged setup when doors are closed—preventing hens from moving freely throughout the barn or accessing litter on the floors.
Companies that have already committed to going cage-free may be unaware that their egg producers are using combi cages, which is why it’s crucial that these companies ask the right questions of their suppliers so cage-free remains a meaningful term for animal welfare. Kudos to Taco Bell for not only being among the first to go completely cage-free, but also ensuring their supply chain was free of combi cages.
Dr Tracey Jones, Compassion’s Director of Food Business, says, “Farm animal welfare is not just for the good times or the niche products - every animal reared for food deserves a good quality of life. As we emerge from this pandemic, there is much to learn, none more so than how we balance the relationship between the food we eat, its impact on the environment, natural resources and rich biodiversity of our fragile planet, and the health and livelihoods of its people. Never in our history has it been so urgent to build a more resilient, sustainable food system with animal welfare at its heart. Our corporate partners are on that journey and we will continue to work with them to drive this much-needed change.”
Globally, this year saw the allocation of 12 Good Egg Awards, three Good Chicken Awards, one Good Turkey Award, four Good Calf Awards, five Good Dairy Commendations, one Good Sow Commendation, one Good Rabbit Commendation, six Good Pig Production Awards in China, and one Cage Free Award presented to Coop UK.