As we approach the January 1st implementation date for California’s Proposition 2 and A.B. 1437– two historic animal welfare laws that ban the production and sale of eggs from hens kept in extreme confinement – I’m elated to share the news of the decision by Starbucks to put in place a North American cage-free egg policy, as part of a broader set of commitments concerning animal welfare. We’ve called on major food retailers to get on board with the principles of Prop 2 and to adhere to a cage-free standard, and Starbucks is today committing to do this and more. We hope that other major retailers in California and throughout the nation will follow the lead of Starbucks – one of the biggest brands in food and beverage.
We’ve been working for years with this enormous company – which has more than 12,000 retail outlets in the United States, including more than 2,000 locations in California – to improve its animal welfare standards. Today Starbucks pledged to do the following:
- Phase out gestation crates for pigs and cages for chickens.
- Eliminate the use of artificial growth hormones, and for poultry, artificial fast growing practices that cause chickens to suffer chronic pain.
- End the dehorning, tail docking, and castration of animals without anesthesia.
- Move away from inhumane chicken slaughter practices.
On a statement on its website, Starbucks announced: “Specifically, our priority is to ensure we offer food made with ingredients such as cage-free eggs, gestation crate-free pork, and poultry processed through more humane systems such as CAK [controlled atmosphere killing]. For each focus area listed above, we’re working with the industry on creating reasonable timeframes. As one example, we have significantly expanded our cage-free egg offerings since 2008, increasing our purchases year over year, and are committed to continue to do so.”
While the time frame for the switchover has not yet been announced by Starbucks, this may be the most comprehensive animal welfare policy of any national restaurant chain, because this announcement includes both shell and liquid eggs (which are used for its pastries, which it sells in such volume). And what Starbucks is doing is not only better for animals, it’s also business savvy. Consumers simply don’t want farm animals being caged, or genetically manipulated to grow unnaturally large, or mutilated without pain killers. We live in a society where major corporations increasingly recognize that its customers want to see animals treated with decency.
We’re thankful for our partnership with Starbucks, and excited about its announcement today. On the eve of the implementation of Prop 2, it’s an especially significant pledge. Whether through policies from major corporations, or waging winning campaigns to pass monumental laws, I’m proud that our team’s efforts are helping to create a food system that better reflects American values of compassion and mercy to all animals.