Is Shake Shack Keeping Its Animal Welfare Promise?

Around the world, hens raised for eggs are confined in filthy cages so small the birds can’t even spread their wings. Knowing that consumers care about chicken welfare, Shake Shack promised years ago to go cage-free in its global egg supply chain by 2025. But the clock is ticking, and Shake Shack is sharing progress toward its goal only for restaurants in the UK and the United States. What about the hundreds of other locations across the world? Consumers deserve answers. 

Why Cage-Free?

Although any hen in the modern egg industry suffers greatly, those in cage-free farms are spared some of the cruelest farming practices. Unlike caged hens, hens in cage-free farms don’t stand on wire flooring with no space to move around or stretch their wings. Caged hens are crammed into metal cages with up to 10 other birds. Each bird has floor space smaller than a sheet of notebook paper. This extreme confinement causes a range of painful ailments, such as lesions from pressing against the harsh cage wire, as well as profound psychological distress. 

Shake Shack owes it to these sensitive, curious animals to keep its word and eliminate cages for all hens in the company’s supply chain.  

Consumers Deserve Better

People everywhere deserve food that meets basic quality standards—and that includes the treatment of farmed animals.

Many corporations are addressing animal welfare in their food supply chains by banning cages for hens. But much like Shake Shack, some appear to be doing this only in Europe and North America while refusing to publish plans for addressing cage confinement in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Members of the European Commission have called this inequitable practice discriminatory. What’s more, caging hens raised for eggs is associated with significantly higher rates of salmonella, creating serious food safety concerns for consumers.

Shake Shack customers in any country deserve transparency about where their food comes from, not just those in the United States or UK. 

What We’re Doing

Mercy For Animals is committed to holding companies accountable to their promises to do better for animals. We’re shining on a light on this progress—or lack thereof—with our most recent annual International Cage-Free Equity Index (ICEI), a project that ranks companies according to the equity or inequity of their animal welfare goals and progress—especially in the Global South. ICEI is a collaboration of 15 organizations across 23 countries spanning Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America that are united in their aim to end the use of cages.

As ICEI reveals, Shake Shack ranks a step above some other companies—such as 7-Eleven and Mars—simply by committing to eliminating cages worldwide. However, the company has gone silent regarding progress on its global cage-free promise in all its regions of operation. It’s time for full transparency from Shake Shack!

“Animal welfare and food safety concerns do not end at the borders of Global North countries.”
—Zoë Sigle, Global Corporate Engagement Manager, Mercy For Animals

What You Can Do

Whether you’re a Shake Shack customer or not, we can all agree that animals and consumers deserve better. With over 350 Shake Shack locations worldwide, ending the use of eggs from caged hens in all its stores would be a significant step in the right direction—and could set a precedent for other multinational companies to follow. Urge Shake Shack to report cage-free progress everywhere!