Harvard University Hospitality & Dining Services has been approached about changing to using only cage free eggs.
HUHDS purchases the equivalent of approximately 1.15 million eggs per year, in different forms, from different vendors.
· Cage free shell eggs served in all dining halls
o Approximately 500,000 a year
o Sourced from Pete & Gerry's in New Hampshire
o On the menu: hard-boiled eggs at breakfast, or grill orders like fried or sunny side up eggs
· Liquid eggs (pre-shelled eggs)
o Equivalent of approximately 500,000 per year
o On the menu: scrambled eggs, and in recipes
· Pre-shelled hard-boiled eggs
o Approximately 150,000 a year
o On the menu: hard-boiled eggs in the salad bar
We have carefully weighed numerous factors in considering a change regarding egg sourcing:
· Nutrition: impartial research shows no nutritional difference in eggs that are cage free, as opposed to those that are not.
· Health & Safety: in appropriately-managed facilities such as the ones from which HUHDS sources eggs, there are no notable health or food safety benefits (such as a decreased risk of salmonella) to one form of laying environment over another. Further, regardless of laying environment, hormone use is prohibited in raising hens.
· Humane treatment: the term “cage free” does not equal “free roaming” or “free range” birds. Most cage free eggs in the United States are “barn roaming” – contained in closed facilities that have been shown to have parallel concerns to those of caged birds (i.e., space, de-beaking, bird-on-bird aggression). To truly impact the life experience of the bird, they would need to be “free roaming”, and there is no vendor which could provide eggs that meet our safety and volume specifications.
· Economic: converting all eggs to cage free would increase costs by more than $100,000, necessitating either the elimination of significant program components or an increase in the board rate at a time when the University is working so hard to manage the overall cost of attending Harvard.
HUHDS will maintain its current policy of purchasing eggs from responsible, USDA-approved egg farmers, offering cage free options in our dining halls for students who feel strongly about this issue. We will continue to monitor both legislative action and pricing, and we will regularly review options with the goal of finding the best possible solution for the broad range of students we serve.