- General Mills Inc. pledged to use 100% cage-free eggs for the entire supply chain of its U.S. operations as part of the company's updated animal welfare policy. General Mills was already using not just cage-free eggs. but free-range eggs for some of its products, like Haagen-Dazs ice cream made in Europe.
- General Mills has not set an exact date for when the policy will go into effect but instead said it would work out a "reasonable timeline" with suppliers per the current egg shortage caused by the bird flu outbreak, the Associated Press reported.
- The plan is based on a set of principles, the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, created by the British government. These principles "include freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from fear and distress; and freedom to engage in normal patterns of animal behavior," according to the Associated Press.
Wal-Mart, General Mills' leading food retailer, also switched to a cage-free egg policy based on those principles in May, while its store brand had already been cage-free since 2010.
Whether General Mills' egg suppliers will struggle with the new cage-free requirement depends on how they have been affected by the bird flu-inflicted egg shortage. This includes breaker eggs, a major component for some egg suppliers and major food companies, which has seen severe shortages and price hikes in the past few months due to the shortage.
Egg and poultry groups called out the USDA's approach to the bird flu outbreak Tuesday.
General Mills' cage-free eggs announcement comes on the heels of another announcement meant to appeal to consumers' desire for natural foods, a vow to remove artificial colors and flavors from its cereal brands.