General Mills Will Go 100 Percent Cage-Free

By on July 7, 2015 with 35 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Within the last six months or so, we’ve worked with many of the biggest names in the food business to announce their commitment to stop selling eggs from caged hens. Aramark, Compass Group, Dunkin Brands, Hilton, Kellogg, Nestle, Sodexo, Starbucks, and Walmart have all made public pledges to shift their egg-purchasing practices away from battery cage confinement systems. Today, we’re pleased to announce that General Mills, one of the nation’s largest food makers, is joining the list.

“We commit to working toward 100 percent cage free eggs for our U.S. operations,” says General Mills – which owns brands like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Progresso Soups, and Hamburger Helper – in its new policy. “We recognize that the current avian influenza outbreak has been deeply disruptive to the U.S. egg supply and producers. As the industry works to rebuild its supply chain, we will work with suppliers to determine a path and reasonable timeline toward this commitment.”

General Mills is grounding its policy on the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, a set of principles that will translate into better outcomes for all of the animals in its supply chain. With the Five Freedoms in mind, the company’s policy pledges continual improvement by also examining solutions to solve other key animal welfare concerns, including subjecting animals to tail docking, de-horning, and, without the administration of pain killers, castration. It’s also translating into an examination of issues related to rapid growth of broiler chickens and turkeys.

Certainly the highlight of this announcement is the commitment to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs. And as the egg industry considers its production strategies in light of the impact of bird flu on cage confinement facilities, there’s an opportunity for the industry to pivot away from caging hens altogether and make the transition to higher-welfare, cage-free systems.

Commodities expert Urner Barry recently reported that cage facilities have been hit much harder by bird flu than cage-free facilities. In many parts of the country, prices for battery-cage eggs doubled at the height of the outbreak. Because the volume of birds in a single cage confinement facility is so large, if even a single bird gets sick, then the entire flock must be killed – a devastating outcome for the birds and the farmers.

Common sense and sound science tell us that warehousing animals in cramped cages is bad for both the animals and for us. The veal industry is eliminating its cruel crates. Many of the largest pork producers are eliminating gestation crates. And 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.

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  1. Katey says:

    General Mills needs to TELL the PUBLIC EXACTLY what the NEW setting will be. Personally, I don’t think the HUGE open areas STUFFED with chickens is appropriate. PEOPLE NEED TO STOP BUYING eggs and DEAD chicken bodies. When there is no PROFIT in stocking chickens, THEN, and ONLY THEN, WILL BIG BUSINESS STOP the TORTURE. MONEY TALKS for BIG BUSINESS.

    • Donna says:

      Agree with the above statement by Katey. I just watched a show last night about the chicken farmers who are under contract by these big corporations. The chickens may be cage free but are still in cramped conditions with no light allowed in the building. The farmers want the chickens to have sunlight and more fresh air but the corporations won’t allow it. If a farmer speaks out about it they lose their contract .

      • Lillian Abel says:

        I only buy cage free eggs, however, it’s important to know what they are fed and if they are in the sun and not in a confined area with no sun.

    • Annette Luffman-Johnson says:


    • Tom says:

      Agreed… money talks for big business. There’s certainly no “heart” to appeal to, but there is a pocketbook to be strangled. Sadly it’s the only way.

    • macro says:

      I completely agree with Katey and Donna. There is a misconception that “cage-free” allows the chickens more room and less cruel treatment as there are loop holes in the definition. The chickens are still crammed in the cage-free space and not allowed outdoors. Pasture fed chickens are a better option.

  2. David Bernazani says:

    Yet another industry giant shifts away from extreme confinement. It’s plain to see that battery cages will soon be relegated to history’s Book of Failed Bad Ideas. It won’t be soon enough!

  3. Martha Z Martinez says:

    All animals need to be free! Best to consider becoming a vegetarian. Consider eating more nuts for protein and stop eating meat!

  4. James Lucas says:

    They should just get rid of eggs in their recipes and use plant based substitutes. Like ground flax or chia seeds.

    • Karen says:

      I agree James.. one step at a time though.. we are getting there. Slow and steady wins the race.

  5. Michelle Mason says:

    I don’t believe anything until I see it. Didn’t Costco commit to the same thing and then did nothing? And then it takes so long for it to come about while the chickens continue to suffer. I will continue to buy from local farmer where I can actually see the conditions. It is a good idea and I hope they follow through with this. One step at a time we can be rid of animal cruelty in all forms.

    • BJ says:

      I was wondering if Lowes, Home Depot or Wal Mart sell GMO Monsanto plants to consumers that are not aware of it? I have never seen a plant labeled.

  6. Pj says:

    God works in mysterious ways. Thank you Lord!!!

  7. KT says:

    They need to start supporting local farms that raise their animals humanely. Get to know your local farmers, know how they treat the animals, how they are caged, fed, etc.

  8. NC says:

    I, too, will purchase from PROVEN sources that treat animals humanely. I’m fortunate to live in an area where we can literally go to the farm where the eggs come from, and the chickens are SO happy galavanting out in the fresh air and sunshine, and totally protected from the predators and harsh elements. 🙂

  9. Paula says:

    I’m not a vegetarian but want to keep fighting for humane and healthy conditions for animals. At least the corporations are getting the message. Consumers are putting on pressure. Also, avian flu is a huge concern so hopefully we will realize factory farming doesn’t work.

  10. Flavia Macias says:

    Thanks God…. I am so glad about this notice…. I really hope all hens are treated with liberty, and in good conditions… and it is a nice job you are doing, to help all those animals that suffer… thank you.

  11. Gail says:

    To be clear. Cage free is not free range.

  12. Andy Mejias says:

    We only buy cage free eggs. Only a few companies offer them here; I’m glad to see that General Mills has opted to go cage free. Although as mentioned, they may still be cramped, I refuse to buy them non-cage free.

  13. David says:

    Showing empathy toward the animals we feed upon will spiritually raise the quality of life of both man and animal.

  14. Anmarie says:

    Well, its a step in the right direction! Yay!!!

  15. jamie mullins says:

    I just watched a Dr Oz show exposing the truth about the meanings of these terms like “organic” and “cage free”… Not at all as nice as it sounds. All that means is that there is an opening for them to get out which many don’t and wouldn’t because they know nothing else and they are still to cramped to barely move. Check it out on line.

  16. June says:

    Well, I was happy until I read the other comments.. Can’t believe I was so naive.

  17. Helen Kingsley says:

    please show a photo of cage free environment. Also please comment on these statements:
    even if cage door is open chickens often stay inside bc they don’t know what to do. T or F?
    Cage free really means crammed inside a dark bldg. T or F?

  18. Joan says:

    Three hens will easily supply enough eggs for a small family, 5-6 hens for large families. They are fun pets and easy keepers once you have a good set-up. For many people who want cruelty free eggs backyard hens are worth considering!

  19. BJ says:

    Pasture raised caged free or buildings crammed full of chickens which never experience the outside cage free. There is a big difference

  20. Donna says:

    Also, the big question is “Will they stop clipping the hen’s beaks??”
    That is so inhumane…..

  21. Faith says:

    That’s a great start; now they need to feed organically as well, kill humanely, and process in the US.

  22. Ann McCraw says:

    I’m very fortunate to have fresh eggs ever week. My daughter has chickens that lay big brown eggs. You can’t believe the difference in fresh eggs and store bought. Makes pound cakes taste like heaven.

  23. Donna Lysinger says:

    I notice Nellies cage Free egg’s are chicken’s that are out in the open in a large chicken yard were they can run around & be free chicken’s & the owner explain’s in the egg carrier how they are taken care of. I think Egg Land’s Best cage free egg’s are raised the same. I am all for chicken’s in a cage free home in a large area where they can be free & be like it when the farmer’s let them out in a yard to scratch & be in the open air . I wonder if the bird flu. is caused by chicken’s that lay there eggs on a convaer belt & never out in air or sun, or to stretch there leg.s or body how cruel. Free the chicken’s .

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