RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Dunkin' Donuts may be the king of coffee in America, but the company also sells tons of egg sandwiches to enjoy with its java. Because of Dunkin' Donuts' major reach, an online petition started by Change.org is pressuring the breakfast food giant to convert to cage-free eggs.
Dunkin' Donuts officials recently announced that the company is looking into the possibility of sourcing cage-free eggs in its first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility report, titled "Compassion over Killing," following mounting public pressure to adopt more sustainable practices. "In 2009, Compassion over Killing revealed horrific conditions at a Dunkin' Donuts egg supplier," says Annie Hartnett, creator of the Dunkin' Donuts' cage-free campaign on Change.org. "I’d be thrilled to see Dunkin' Donuts finally go cage-free, both for public health reasons and for the sake of animal welfare."
Numerous studies have found that cage-raised hens are anywhere from seven to 21 times more likely to harbor Salmonella bacteria compared to non-caged hens. (Floors in these cramped cages, known as battery cages, are just slightly larger than a piece of paper, and hens are typically kept inside them their entire lives. The cages are often stacked from the floor to the warehouse ceiling.) While cage-free is certainly considered a step up in terms of public safety and animal welfare, the chickens are still likely living inside of a warehouse, although they have more freedom to engage in natural chicken behaviors, such as scratching, stretching, and walking around. (Chickens even sometimes like to run, believe it or not.)
"Annie Hartnett’s efforts to push major players in the food industry like Dunkin' Donuts to adopt better animal welfare and food safety standards has really resonated with consumers across the country," says Sarah Parsons, senior organizer of Change.org. "After more than 50 days of campaigning, the fact that Dunkin' Donuts announced publicly that it is considering using cage-free eggs is tremendous progress for these activists."
"Dunkin' Brands is committed to actively exploring opportunities to source ingredients that meet high animal welfare standards," Dunkin' Donuts officials said in a statement sent to Rodale.com. "We are currently considering the use of cage-free eggs—researching available quantities, feasibility and food safety, among other issues. As we develop a holistic approach to sustainable sourcing, we set a goal to complete feasibility and research of available quantities of cage-free eggs and gestation crate-free pork by 2013."
The cage-free consideration from Dunkin' Donuts—the company already sources Fair Trade espresso beans—comes several months after competitor Krispy Kreme announced it would be shifting to cage-free eggs.
Here's how to advocate for healthier eggs:
• Sign on for better eggs. Sign the Dunkin' Donuts Cage-Free Eggs Petition from Change.org to keep pressure on the company to go cage-free.
• Source the healthiest eggs possible. When shopping for your own eggs, look for pastured eggs from local farmers. This means the chickens are outside eating grass and bugs—a diet that cranks up the beneficial omega-3s in the eggs. For more ways to cut through eggs-label confusion, read Cage-Free? Free-Range? How Egg Carton Claims Relate to Salmonella Risks.
Published on: September 2, 2011
Updated on: September 6, 2011