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Nestlé, the biggest food company on the planet, has announced that it will use cage-free eggs—and only cage-free eggs—by the year 2020.
The announcement means that in as little as five years, Nestlé will need to completely change the way it sources eggs—about 20 million pounds worth per year. That's a a tall order.
Nestlé is just one of several food industry heavy-hitters that have pledged to support more ethical, humane farming. McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Starbucks have all vowed to make the switch to cage-free eggs, too, but those companies are nowhere near as influential as Nestlé. This move could put serious pressure on other companies to phase out the use of eggs from caged hens.
Activists argue that the cage-free movement—though meaningful and well-intentioned—isn't a complete solution to the inhumane treatment of animals in the food industry. After all, even cage-free birds are subject to dark, cramped conditions and debeaking.
Still, if Nestlé's commitment to cage-free farming has the type of industry-wide reverberations one could expect, it's a significant step in the direction of more humane treatment of food animals across the board.