A Humane Move in Fast Food

June 7th, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

One chain’s responsible decision may set an industry precedent.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

A recent announcement from Burger King could be a game-changer for the fast food industry: By 2017, the chain aims to purchase only cage-free eggs and pork. At the moment, 9 percent of the chickens and 20 percent of the pigs that produce the products Burger King buys are cage free. Since BK is the world’s second-largest fast food chain, some are saying its shift toward humanely produced food is setting the bar higher for all fast-food restaurants.

An Associated Press article quoted the president of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle: “So many tens of thousands of animals will now be in better living conditions…Numerically, this is significant because Burger King is such a big purchaser of these products.”

But Mother Nature Network’s Robin Shreeves says this doesn’t necessarily mean the “chickens will be romping around the barnyard in the sunlight.” In fact, she notes, people should understand that while cage-free is a positive step in reducing cruelty, it doesn’t mean animals are guaranteed cruelty-free conditions. Still, she says, “Burger King deserves some credit for moving in the right direction.”

Importantly, notes Bruce Kennedy at Green Biz, because cage-free eggs can cost an extra 25 to 40 cents per dozen, the hundreds of millions of eggs Burger King will be using could end up forcing down the price of more humanely produced eggs. As Kennedy points out, this could “in turn make it easier for other restaurants to buy them too. If that happens, of course, the market for these cage-free eggs could hatch in a big way.”

What do you think of Burger King’s move? Is it a step in the right direction or is too much credit being given where it isn’t due? Weigh in here.