A Newly Released Eggsposé Sheds Light On The Inhumane Practices Of Egg Companies

The Humane League (THL) has published its 2023 Eggsposé Report, an annual publication warning consumers about restaurants and corporations that are failing to report their progress toward publicly promised goals regarding the sourcing and sales of cage-free eggs. Companies included in the report include chains like Wendy's, On the Border, and Einstein Bros. Bagels, as well as grocery store Hy-Vee and travel center Pilot Flying J, among others.

The report focuses on companies that have made public commitments to eliminate the use of eggs from caged hens. The use of battery cages to confine hens has been widely condemned and PBS reports that public demand for cage-free eggs has been on the rise, leading many companies to publicly declare their goals to move toward purchasing and supplying 100% cage-free eggs.

However, THL says that a number of these companies enjoy the results of the positive publicity from their announcements but don't ultimately follow through on their promises.

"Basically the Eggsposé is calling out companies that have previously committed to going 100% cage-free, of their own accord, due to public demand," Katie Wagner, media contact for THL, told The Daily Meal.

WattPoultry.com states that some businesses have taken the report seriously and have updated their progress after the 2021 report, however, others remain on the list or have been newly added for their lack of transparency.

Some companies use shady linguistics as a strategy

While some businesses in the Eggsposé Report do have information that appears to be fulfilling their commitment to providing 100% cage-free eggs, THL says that companies are relying on linguistics to circumvent the reality of their practices.

For instance, Einstein Bros. Bagels states in its Environmental, Social & Governance Report that in 2017 they fulfilled their goal of "Exclusive use of Cage Free Eggs in all egg sandwiches at Einstein Bros. Bagels and Noah's NY Bagels by 2020." The well-known bagel brand also states on another page on the site that "every egg we serve comes from a cage-free hen."

THL says that in order for restaurants to fully live up to their promise of using 100% cage-free eggs, the commitment extends beyond just the whole eggs that they serve. It includes the partial eggs that they may use in other products that they make. "All egg ingredients have to be cage-free. It's misleading to only include cage-free whole eggs," Katie Wagner said.

Einstein Bros. has not responded to a request to comment.

More Misleading Marketing

Meanwhile, THL says that Wendy's is another example of disingenuous reporting to consumers. In 2016, the company announced its commitment to serving 100% cage-free eggs at its 400 locations that serve breakfast by 2020. According to Sentient Media, Wendy's later announced that they met that goal.

However, after that announcement, Wendy's began selling breakfast nationwide at approximately 5,800 locations but failed to adjust their egg purchasing practices, citing short supply, resulting in a mere 6% of the eggs served being cage free. In 2021, Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) sued Wendy's for deceptive marketing and advertising — ultimately the fast food chain agreed to change their wording to better reflect the reality of its sourcing.

THL also notes that some of the businesses identified in the report have skirted around their failure to meet their own self-imposed cage-free deadlines by merely removing their statements from their websites.

"After announcing, a lot of the companies never followed through. Some secretly removed verbiage — it's interesting and nuanced from company to company," Katie Wagner tells us. Furthermore, she says that THL's in-depth research process and communications with the businesses offer an abundance of opportunities to report progress toward goals before the report's publication. "Many did update their sites with current percentages and information. The ones in the report are the ones who failed to do so," they claim.