Taco Bell Is Going Cage-Free, ‘Menu Prices Won’t Be Impacted’

According to Reuters, Taco Bell has announced it will be going cage-free with their eggs. This goes for over 6,000 of these fast-food chains come January 1, 2017. This is quite early compared to other competing restaurants when attempting to move towards humanely raised, cage-free chickens.

With the raising concern of artificial ingredients in foods as well as antibiotics in meats, Taco Bell is joining the ranks of Chick-Fil-A, McDonald’s, Subway, and others in backing the cause to going this route. McDonald’s said within 10 years it’ll be making the cage-free jump with its 16,000 U.S. and Canadian fast-food stores.

Going Cage Free Eggs Fast Food Free Range Chicken Eggs Macros on February 04, 2012. [Photo by PROSteven Depolo/FlickrLicense]In a report made by OC Register, the Taco Bell located in Irvine, Calif, announced it will be the very first store to serve cage-free eggs at breakfast. Although, it wasn’t revealed what kind of financial undertaking this would take cost-wise for Taco John to go cage-free with the eggs, but Taco Bell Spokesperson Rob Poetsch mentioned that this won’t have any influence on the menu prices.

Also, Humane Society’s senior director of food policy Josh Balk made note that this move put Taco Bell in front of the competition when going cage-free and indeed will impact the quality of life for the animals providing a healthier food resource by going with this method.

“Switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by the end of 2016 is a tremendous commitment that will quickly improve the lives of countless animals and further cement the future of egg production as being one without cages.”

Nothing was revealed about how much it would cost Taco Bell, but to get an idea, OC Register reported that only 6 percent of cage-free hens make up the entire U.S. That comes to about 18 million chickens. Also, keep in mind Taco Bell announced that in the first quarter of 2016, it will do away with high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and unsustainable palm oil from it’s core menu. Nations Restaurant News reported that Taco Bell will also be bringing on stock aspartame-free diet Pepsi.

Another restaurant chain to note is that Panera Bread, as reported by Forbes, announced their jump to the bandwagon of going cage-free by the year 2020.

Going Cage Free with Taco Bell [Semi] free range chickens. [Photo by woodleywonderworks/FlickrLicense]For those not entirely versed in the terminology when it comes to green or healthy eating. You’ll see nutritional buzzwords come up like “free-range” or “cage-free.” The Wall Street Journal derived their distinctions, but some meanings tend to overlap. These are similar, as even “free-range” is referred as chickens that are cage-free and free to roam about. Some don’t necessarily lay their eggs in their home pen, as they may lay them outside on the acreage.

Then there is “all natural” and “pasture raised” as well. The earlier seems to be a standard set by the egg producer while the USDA has no set standards for the environmental conditions in which the chickens are raised. The latter indicates that the chickens are free to roam and forage in a pasture. A definition for “pasture raised” wasn’t given by the USDA. Reading the definitions from the report, most seem to have their similarities.

With consumers having more of an awareness of what they put into their bodies, one may wonder if cage-free eggs will be the norm? An interview by Forbes with farmer Bill French in Lisbon, N.H., he doesn’t think that will be the case.

“I doubt the majority of consumers will willingly pay premium for cage-free.”

Though, there are significant costs for an aviary set-up and an investment in transforming a currently cage-raised chicken farm to a cage-free farm is pretty high. However, if a consumer is financially aware of their personal budget and if they give up certain unhealthy foods and replace them with healthier alternatives of going cage-free themselves, it may turn out to be a wash economically.

For instance, if a consumer is in the habit of buying Coca-Cola, where one of the main ingredients is high fructose corn syrup, they could give up on that beverage as part of their lifestyle altogether. Give up buying Coke for a dozen cage-free eggs may be something to consider. Of course, one may need the will power to give up their favorite foods.

[Photo by Anthony92931/Wikimedia Commons – License]