Taco Bell Cage-Free Eggs: Fast-Food Taco Chain To Use All Cage-Free Eggs By End Of 2016

Heather Tooley

Taco Bell cage-free eggs will be on the fast-food taco chain's menu within a year. The restaurant announced on Monday that its egg supply will be 100 percent cage-free at all locations by December 2016.

Fox News reports that Taco Bell's decision to use cage-free eggs comes after other fast-food restaurants have made the same move. Others include McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Panera. What separates Taco Bell from the rest is it will be the major first chain to make the total switch a lot sooner than later.

Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol issued a statement about using cage-free eggs.

"Implementing this change at record pace underscores that we are always listening and responding to our customers, while doing what is right for our business," he said.

Niccol went on to add that they've listened to consumers and want to appeal to their "tastes." Taco Bell also wanted to address customers' care about animal welfare and how humanely the animals used for food are treated.

Taco Bell's cage-free eggs will be used in breakfast foods offered in the mornings. This includes the A.M. Crunchwrap, breakfast burritos, and Breakfast Tacos. This milestone decision is being praised by customers.

Taco Bell Vows To Use Cage-Free Eggs To Make Their Weird Breakfast Items https://t.co/JpZvOTJGkJ pic.twitter.com/nrViHchFVD

— Gothamist (@Gothamist) November 16, 2015

According to the restaurant's press release, "cage-free egg production supports the natural behaviors of hens, including walking, spreading of wings, nesting, and perching, and can lead to animals exhibiting lower levels of stress."

According to the Humane Society, the change will benefit an estimated 500,000 laying hens.

Fox News adds in its report that in addition to switching to cage-free eggs, Taco Bell announced it still intends to "eliminate artificial flavors and colors, added trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, and palm oil from its core menu items by early 2016." Moreover, the company has set the wheels in motion to introduce aspartame-free diet Pepsi products in all of its U.S. locations by the beginning of next year.

Taco Bell currently has more than 6,000 corporate and franchise-owned locations in the U.S.

According to Chicago Tribune, U.S. food business manager for Compassion in World Farming Rachel Dreskin says that this is "the first significant announcement" that Taco Bell has emerged with in regards to animal well-being in the U.S.

"Taco Bell caters to a diverse customer base, and this announcement demonstrates that treating animals with respect is a value that is shared across the entire population," Dreskin said.

— Mashable (@mashable) November 16, 2015

In stark comparison, McDonald's will make the switch to cage-free eggs years into the future. It announced in September that within the next 10 years, the fast-chain restaurant will use cage-free eggs at it's more than 16,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

McDonald's announcement highlighted the fact that egg suppliers will have to adapt to the changing market's demands on how the food source is produced. A separate report on Chicago Tribune revealed that cage-free eggs will come at a price.

Stephen Herbruck, president of Herbruck's Poultry Ranch in Saranac, Michigan, says that about 3 million of its 7 million hens are in cages. His ranch is one of McDonald's largest egg suppliers. He said in the years ahead, the site's 31 buildings will be renovated to meet the new cage-free demand. Herbruck said hey'll be replaced at two or three buildings per year. With that said, it will cost his company up to $100 million renovations.

It's unclear how this will affect consumer pricing.

McDonald's USA buys approximately 2 billion eggs a year -- calculated to be about 2 percent of the nation's entire egg supply. About 13 million of McDonald's eggs already come from a cage-free environment for restaurant locations around the U.S.

[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]