Taco Bell joins cage-free egg movement

by Eric Schroeder
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Taco Bell AM Crunchwrap and Biscuit Taco featuring eggs
Taco Bell is aiming to be the first national quick-service restaurant chain to completely transition to cage-free eggs.

IRVINE, Calif. — The mass movement by large US restaurant chains to exclusively serve cage-free eggs continues with the announcement Taco Bell will make the transition by Dec. 31, 2016. A subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., Taco Bell is aiming to be the first national quick-service restaurant chain to completely implement the change, ahead of Panera’s and Starbucks’ plan to do so by 2020 and McDonald’s goal to reach 100 percent cage-free eggs over the next decade. 

Brian Niccol, CEO of Taco Bell
Brian Niccol, CEO of Taco Bell

“We are a brand that has our finger on the pulse of not only what appeals to our customers’ tastes but also the issues they care most about, and they tell us they want food that’s simple and easy to understand,” said Brian Niccol, CEO of Taco Bell Corp. “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.”

Taco Bell has set a goal to transition to cage-free eggs in “an industry-leading 12-month time frame.” The fast-food chain’s eggs will be verified as “American Humane Certified” based on cage-free egg production standards set by the American Humane Association.

“Delivering a sustainable and safe egg supply to Taco Bell restaurants nationwide in one year is possible due to the brand’s large yet flexible infrastructure, and years of close collaboration with our partners,” said Liz Matthews, chief food innovation officer at Taco Bell Corp.

In addition to switching to 100 percent cage-free eggs by the end of 2016, Taco Bell confirmed that by the beginning of 2016, it will deliver on its stated goal of removing artificial flavors and colors, added trans fat, high-fructose corn syrup, and unsustainable palm oil from its core menu items. The company also plans to introduce aspartame-free diet Pepsi products in all of its US restaurants beginning in early 2016.

The company also plans to expand its policies related to food simplicity, transparency and choice in the coming months, to complement its stated goal of eliminating additional preservatives and additives where possible by the end of 2017.

“Ingredient transparency is more important than ever to the next generation of Taco Bell customers,” Matthews said. “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.”

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