Taco Bell is the latest fast-food chain to promise cage-free eggs

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Taco Bell Going Cage-Free


Barely two weeks ago, critics argued that Taco Bell parent company Yum! Brands was pretty much the only major fast-food player still dragging its feet on the issue of sourcing better, more humane ingredients.

That timing was prescient, it seems: In an announcement sent out this morning, Taco Bell says that will finally change at its 6,000 U.S. locations. By December 31, 2016, every egg the chain uses will be cage-free.

The Humane Society is already praising the news, saying it means that half a million hens a year will get roomier digs.

Related: See a cage-free 'chicken nirvana' farm in Iowa:
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Taco Bell is the latest fast-food chain to promise cage-free eggs
Cage-free chickens stand in a fenced pasture on the Francis Blake organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
A chicken struts inside a fenced pasture on the Francis Blake organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Eggs laid by cage-free chickens sit in a holder after being sorted by Francis Blake on his organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Francis Blake sorts eggs laid by cage-free chickens on his organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Francis Blake talks about his cage-free chicken operation on his organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Francis Blake watches his cage-free chickens roam in a fenced pasture on his organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cage-free chickens walk in a fenced pasture on the Francis Blake organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
A warning sign is seen on a door in a chicken house on the Francis Blake organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
A cage-free chicken looks out at the egg sorting area on the Francis Blake organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cage-free chickens walk in a fenced pasture on the Francis Blake organic farm, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, near Waukon, Iowa. Blake gathers an average of 2,500 dozen eggs a week from his flock of 5,000 cage-free hens. An increasing customer demand for more eggs from chickens free from cages has left U.S. egg farmers with the question of whether to spend millions of dollars to convert or build cage-free barns. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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While Taco Bell is relatively late to the cage-free party, reps for the chain say they've found a way to make the change a lot faster than everybody else. Taco Bell's one-year turnaround will beat Panera and Starbucks by three years and McDonald's by, incredibly, the better part of a decade.

Taco Bell's pledge and the relative speed with which it'll carry it out are certainly worth applauding, but it's still a shame that these commitments are still at least a year away — especially since Chipotle doesn't (yet) offer its version of biscuit tacos.

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