Taking a queue from major chains like Subway and McDonald's, Taco Bell is working to make its production practices more transparent. The corporation plans to exclusively serve cage-free eggs at all of its 6,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2016.
Since first introducing breakfast items last year, Taco Bell's morning menu has expanded to feature 16 options — most of which contain eggs.
An estimated 500,000 hens will benefit from their move to use cage-free American Humane Certified eggs. Unlike conventionally raised caged eggs, cage-free ones are laid in open industrial barn rooms where they have more space and are less susceptible to stress and disease.
Taco Bell's press release details the cage-free transition's quick timeline. While sweeping ingredient-sourcing changes often take food chains around five years to implement, this one will be completed in just over one year.
Their haste is likely a response to consumer demand: A recent survey by the American Humane Association found that nearly 95% of Americans polled said they were "very concerned" about animal welfare.
“Ingredient transparency is more important than ever to the next generation of Taco Bell customers. That is why we remain hungry and challenge ourselves to set ambitious yet achievable commitments that make our food better, without ever compromising the flavor that our fans crave,” Liz Matthews, the chain's Chief Food Innovation Officer, wrote in the release.
Such transitions towards more natural, sustainable production are promising signs for the future of a historically dubious fast food industry.
Yo quiero, indeed.