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General Mills moving to cage-free eggs, joining Wal-Mart

General Mills Inc. pledged to use only cage-free eggs in its products as part of an updated animal welfare policy released Tuesday.

The changes follow General Mills' announcement last month that it's dropping artificial colors and flavors from its cereals.

The Minneapolis-based company did not set a timeline to use cage-free eggs. But Steve Peterson, an executive in charge of sustainable sourcing, said General Mills would work with suppliers to determine a “reasonable timeline,” given the shortages in the U.S egg supply caused by a bird flu outbreak.

The company updated the animal welfare policy in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States. The policy outlines goals to eliminate tight confinement for pregnant swine by 2017; better pain relief for dairy cows and pigs subjected to de-horning, castration and tail docking; and more study of animal welfare problems associated with fast-growing breeds of broiler chickens and turkeys.

The announcement from General Mills, whose brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Hamburger Helper, comes after the food maker’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, adopted a similar policy in May.

According to the Humane Society, other companies implementing cage-free egg policies include Costco, Kraft Foods, Sara Lee, Safeway and Starbucks.

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