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Panera Is the Latest Chain to Switch to Cage-Free Eggs

It'll make the switch by 2020.

David Silverman/Getty Images

Panera Bread is hopping on the cage-free bandwagon: The sandwich and broth bowl-slinging chain just announced it will exclusively use cage-free eggs by 2020.

Other chains preparing for a total switch to cage-free eggs include Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts (which actually began the transition way back in 2012), and Burger King. The biggest chain to make the move thus far is McDonald's, which announced back in September it would make the switch; however, with more than 16,000 locations worldwide, it will take up to a decade for McDonald's to make the full transition to cage-free. "These announcements provide a clear path for the egg industry toward cage-free, and create a climate where no egg producer in their right mind would feel it profitable to continue locking animals in cages," says Matthew Prescott, senior food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Currently, only around 10 percent of egg-laying hens in America are classified as cage-free — meaning that to keep up with increasing demand from big chains with equally big purchasing power, the agricultural industry will have to make some sweeping changes.

Panera's announcement also includes the news that it will add more plant-based proteins, such as edamame and quinoa, to its menu; burrito chain Chipotle similarly introduced tofu-based sofritas as a meat-free protein option last year.