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December 18, 2007

Compass Charts A New Course

The movement to ban battery cages had its single biggest moment yesterday as Compass Group—the world's largest food service provider, which services hospitals, corporations, universities, even the U.S. House of Representatives and Microsoft—announced that it would in time sell eggs only from cage-free sources. In its first phase, the company will start purchasing half of its shell eggs from cage-free sources within 90 days—a very fast first step by the food service giant. The first phase of implementation will translate into the purchase of 48 million eggs from cage-free producers—and result in nearly 200,000 fewer hens confined in battery cages.

Egg-laying hens in cage-free system
© The HSUS
Egg-laying hens in a cage-free system.

The Humane Society of the United States had previously dealt with some companies within the Compass network, including Bon Appetit Management Company and Wolfgang Puck, both of which have collaborated with The HSUS in adopting cage-free egg policies. But this summer in New Hampshire, my colleague Josh Balk and I had the pleasure of meeting with an even larger group of key decision makers at Compass, including Cheryl Queen, our host and Compass' vice president of corporate communications. The entire group was warm, welcoming, and open-minded, and they had an obvious commitment to corporate social responsibility. Josh and I followed up last month with a visit to Compass' headquarters in Charlotte to speak with the company's executives and also to meet with its purchasing staff. Again, I was so thoroughly impressed with all of the people I had the privilege of meeting.

Corporate social responsibility is on the minds of executives throughout this country. Improving animal welfare is one important component of a thorough commitment to social responsibility. And Compass has taken a giant step in that direction with this policy. We applaud the company, and extend our deepest appreciation to its foresighted leaders.

You can listen to NPR's three-minute "Marketplace" report on this here, which includes mention of the fact that Wendy's still isn't using cage-free eggs.

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