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Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File

General Mills Goes Cage Free!

General Mills moving towards using only one hundred percent cage-free eggs in its products!

They made the announcement on Tuesday that all of their brands will begin using cage-free eggs in an effort to change the welfare of animals in the U.S.

2012 studies proved that tight housing for chickens was to blame for spreading illness. Therefore more spacious quarters could minimize the threat of salmonella poisoning.

Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Progresso soups, Yoplait yogurt, and Hamburger Helper are just some of the brands under the General Mills label.

The company has given its suppliers a “reasonable timeline” to make the switch to a cage-free only program. The recent bird flu has caused tension for U.S. egg suppliers. It has wiped out 30 million birds and as such will greatly slow down egg production.

Senior director of food policy at the United States Humane Society, Josh Balk, worked closely with General Mills to develop their cage free venture. Balk stated:

“General Mills’ announcement is a major victory to improve the lives of farm animals. For such a large food company to make the switch is another indicator that the future of egg production in this country has to be cage free.”

Steve Peterson is the General Mills director of sustainable sourcing. He stated that the new policy protects all animals within its worldwide supply chain.

The company’s new policy is taking a page from the British government’s Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare Act. The British act covers:

  • Easy access to fresh water and a proper diet
  • Discomfort prevention by giving animals a proper shelter and resting areas
  • Ensuring pain, disease and injury are avoided or if unavoidable, diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion
  • Creating an environment which will allow animals to exhibit natural, normal activities and behaviours
  • Treating animals in a manner as to not induce any unnecessary mental suffering (fear, distress, discomfort)

The General Mills policy aims to eliminate: de-horning milk cows, tight quarters for pregnant sows, castration of piglets and tail docking of piglets.

This past June, the company discontinued the use of artificial colouring and flavors in its cereals. The change took place as a response to public requests for more natural ingredients.

Peterson expressed that there may be a bit of a transitional period for suppliers to make the change to adapt to the new policy. He stated:

“You just don’t make these transitions quickly”

Several companies including Kellogg, Nestle, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart are all attempting to move towards using cage free suppliers. The process of enforcing this change will take some time due to the financial investment the egg industries have in the current system.

In polls taken last year by TIPP, over half of Americans would spend more for eggs coming from cage-free or free-range environments. Almost half of Americans agreed that their pork products should come from pigs raised by mothers with ample space to stretch and walk around.

Tuesday, Humane Society president and CEO, Wayne Pacelle, wrote in a blog post:

“Common sense and sound science tell us that warehousing animals in cramped cages is bad for both the animals and for us. Now, with many food companies like General Mills pledging to eliminate chicken cages from their egg supplier chains, the egg industry can accelerate its own shift toward cage-free housing. For the sake of animals and consumers, it can’t happen fast enough.”

Thank you General Mills for leading the way!

About Krystal Tucker

Krystal Tucker

Krystal is a 25 year old writer. She’s been a passionate hobbyist for the last few years dabbling in painting, poetry, sculpting, wood work, makeup, jewelry and recently, gardening. When she isn’t busy creating, she enjoys her time watching movies and hiking with her husband and two dogs. Poke around, get hooked and come back to read more!!
Contact Krystal: krystal.tucker@youthindependent.com