Desserts at Cheesecake Factory Will Soon Be Made With a Bit Less Animal Cruelty

The restaurant chain is the latest to announce that it’s going cage-free.

(Photo: Twitter)

Jul 30, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

Your standard cheesecake filling invariably features a trio of ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, and eggs. And on Tuesday—a few days before National Cheesecake Day—the Cheesecake Factory made an announcement regarding the eggs that go into its signature desert and are found throughout its menu: They will soon be cage-free.

The chain, “which serves more than 80 million customers each year,” wrote Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, “is the latest major food retailer we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with to announce its support for the Five Freedoms.” The freedoms referred to in the program’s title—which has been adopted by the likes of Walmart, General Mills, and the food-service company Aramark—include freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury or disease; from fear and distress; and to express normal behavior.

The Cheesecake Factory, which has close to 200 locations, also said it is making better progress than expected on removing gestation crates from its pork supply chain: In 2012, it said the controversial cages would be phased out by 2022, but that date has been moved up to 2020. It has yet to release a timeline for transition to cage-free eggs.

The seal of approval from a animal-rights group like the Humane Society certainly makes such cage-free announcements look good for chains like Cheesecake Factory. But while going cage-free does represent progress—hens kept in battery cages have just 67 square inches of space to live in—it does not ensure much beyond removing confinements. Hens can still be kept indoors, without access to the outside, and can have their beaks cut. And cage-free eggs may still come from birds dosed with antibiotics.

Still, when the Humane Society started pushing companies to go cage free a decade ago, only around 1 percent of laying hens in the country were not confined. Today, the percentage has climbed to 6 percent—or nearly 20 million laying hens that are no longer kept in cages.