Reduced-guilt doughnuts may be coming soon to a Krispy Kreme near you. No, the new Krispy Kreme recipe won’t change the pastries’ potential impact on your waistline — the iconic sweet treats will still list partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening and refined sugar as main ingredients.
But a small change to Krispy Kreme’s recipe just might make a big difference to animal welfare, food safety and the environment. According to the eco-friendly business blog Triple Pundit, the popular doughnut chain is set to announce next week that it will be making a transition to using cage-free eggs in its restaurants.
Last year, in an effort to convince Krispy Kreme to join the growing ranks of big-name corporate food producers and restaurant chains that are switching to cage-free eggs, the Humane Society of the United States actually purchased stock in Krispy Kreme. The stock purchase gave HSUS representatives the power to attend shareholder meetings, and at a meeting last June HSUS urged Krispy Kreme to use its global purchasing power to make a move toward a more environmentally sustainable business model by committing to buying eggs from cage-free farms.
The Humane Society is reportedly pleased with Krispy Kreme’s move. “Consumers care about animal welfare more than ever, and we’re pleased to see Krispy Kreme joining the dozens of major companies that are taking notice of that,” says Kristie Middleton, and HSUS representative. “We believe the company is genuinely interested in doing the right thing when it comes to animal welfare.”
It may seem surprising that a giant corporate chain restaurant that made its name selling one of the world’s ultimate junk food indugences would jump on the cage-free egg bandwagon after so little pressure. But Krispy Kreme is far from alone — according to the Humane Society, Burger King, Denny’s, Arby’s, and Quiznos are among many fast food and casual dining chain restaurants that have recently committed to serving more cage-free eggs.
Why are so many restaurant chains choosing cage-free eggs? Beyond the moral reasons to buy more humanely produced foods, it’s probably a smart business move. Cage-free egg farms aren’t just better for chickens and better for the environment than battery farms — studies show that cage-free hens may actually produce safer eggs.
A 2007 study by the European Food Safety Authority, for example, found that dangerous strains of salmonella bacteria were significantly more likely to be present on farms where chickens were caged.
Chickens kept in inhumane conditions in battery farms — like the farms that produced last year’s infamous salmonella outbreak in the U.S., are often weakened by stress and therefore more prone to disease, and the overcrowded conditions at traditional factory farms make it difficult for farm workers to keep the animals’ environment sufficiently clean.
Using cage-free eggs might cost a restaurant a few pennies more per serving, but reducing the risk of being associated with a nationwide food poisoning outbreak would certainly be worth the extra expense for a national chain like Krispy Kreme. Here’s hoping other big-name restaurant chains will follow suit in considering the business benefits of ethically sourced food.
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Subway to Phase In Cage-Free Eggs
Detail of doughnut photo by Anna Maj Michelson, from Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons license.