McDonald's move to cage-free eggs is a tipping point for the industry

Will the next egg you crack come from a chicken raised in a roomier barn?

Foodies and farmers are in unusual agreement on the answer: If not now, then soon enough.

Both say McDonald's recent decision to transition to "cage free" eggs for its McMuffins and other menu items was a tipping point in the $9-billion egg industry, which still produces 96% of its eggs in barns full of stacked wire cages.

It will be increasingly hard to ignore a buyer of 2 billion eggs, especially given that McDonald's joined a flock of companies that already made similar supply-line switches — including the top three cafeteria service companies, and fast-food competitors Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks.

Since California passed a measure requiring more space for egg-laying hens in 2008, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Michigan and Ohio have enacted laws regulating hen housing, while activists in Massachusetts have launched a similar measure aimed at the 2016 presidential ballot.

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