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Taco Bell says it'll use only cage-free eggs by 2017

Taco Bell says it will use only cage-free eggs in its U.S. restaurants by Dec. 31, 2016. | AP file photo

Taco Bell jumped ahead of some competitors Monday, pledging to use only cage-free eggs in its 6,000 U.S. restaurants by the end of 2016.

Many other fast-food and fast-casual restaurants have announced plans to use cage-free eggs but their deadlines tend to be closer to 2020. Oak Brook-based McDonald’s Corp., Panera Bread Co. and Dunkin’ Donuts are among chains to announce plans to use cage-free eggs.

“Implementing this change at record pace underscores that we are always listening and responding to our customers, while doing what is right for our business,” Taco Bell chief executive Brian Niccol said in a news release.

Taco Bell’s eggs will be verified as “American Humane Certified” based on cage-free egg production standards set by the American Humane Association.

Taco Bell also said it will meets its January goal of removing artificial flavors and colors, added trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, and some palm oil from its core menu. Aspartame-free diet Pepsi is expected to be available in its restaurants early next year.