BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 08 October '16

Find out which high street brands have cage-free eggs on their menu

When you buy eggs to use at home, you can be confident they didn’t come from hens confined to tiny cages. It’s much harder to be sure about the eggs used in café cakes and sandwiches.
 
Compassion in World Farming (CWF) has created a a ‘virtual high street’ that lets you check which branded chains use cruelty-free eggs, either as whole eggs or as ingredients. Information is provided for coffee shops including Café Nero, Costa and Starbucks, plus fast food chains, bars and restaurants.

Pret, for example, gets two green ticks for using cage-free eggs and ingredients in its products, while EAT is among the brands with two red crosses. Starbucks gets a tick and a cross.
 
CIWF is calling on all brands to make a public commitment to get all caged eggs off their menus – including any ‘hidden’ caged egg ingredients such as those lurking in cakes and pasta.

Click here to view the caged-egg policies of high street coffee shops, fast food chains, bars and restaurants.

Public unaware

A CIWF poll found that 75% of the British public are willing to pay more for eggs produced from hens that are not kept in cages. The survey also reveals that more than a quarter of the British public are unaware that cages are still used to house egg-laying hens in the UK.

In 2015, CIWF carried out an extensive investigation into the egg-laying hen industry across Europe. Filming in France, Italy, Czech Republic and Cyprus, CIWF discovered the horrific conditions that millions of hens are subjected to – spending their entire lives closely confined, standing on wire mesh floors or slippery perches and never seeing the light of day.

Although battery cages were made illegal across the EU in 2012, after decades of campaigning by animal welfare groups the law allowed conventional cages to be replaced with so-called ‘enriched’ versions. While ‘enriched’ cages are an improvement on the barren cages, they still don’t permit hens to carry out their natural behaviours.

In almost every farm CIWF visited in its investigation, the conditions inside the ‘enriched’ cages were so cramped that hens were barely able to spread their wings. In some farms the perches, which are meant to simulate a tree branch for roosting, were barely a few centimetres off the ground.

Eggs in UK retailers

Nearly 20 million laying hens in the UK are currently kept in ‘enriched’ cages, like those seen in CIWF’s investigation, which fail to meet even their most basic needs.

‘Cages are outdated and have no place in modern agricultural systems. Our survey shows that British consumers are willing to pay more for eggs that aren’t from caged hens, so it’s time for all retailers to take note and phase out cages for good.’

JAMES WEST
Senior campaigns manager at Compassion in World Farming

Although UK retailers such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and The Cooperative Food stopped selling eggs from caged systems some years ago, this system is still used in the whole egg supply chain for a number of UK retailers including Lidl and Asda.

Click here to view CIWF’s virtual high street.