McDonald's plan to fully transition to cage-free eggs for its restaurants over the next 10 years.

OAK BROOK, ILL. — McDonald’s Corp. said it will fully transition to cage-free eggs for its nearly 16,000 restaurants in the United States and Canada over the next 10 years.

Mike Andres, president of McDonald’s USA.

“Our customers are increasingly interested in knowing more about their food and where it comes from,” said Mike Andres, president of McDonald’s USA. “Our decision to source only cage-free eggs reinforces the focus we place on food quality and our menu to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.”

The fast-food company said it purchases 2 billion eggs each year for its U.S. restaurants and 120 million eggs for its Canada operations to serve in such breakfast sandwiches as the Egg McMuffin and the Egg White Delight. Since 2011, McDonald’s USA said it has been buying more than 13 million cage-free eggs each year.

McDonald’s has worked with Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, a family-owned and operated farm in Michigan, for decades to supply eggs.

“Cage-free systems play an important role in our work to keep hens healthy and meet the growing consumer demand for responsibly-sourced food,” said Greg Herbruck, executive vice-president of Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch. “We welcome McDonald’s actions to continue these efforts and are pleased to join them in sourcing cage-free eggs across their supply chain. We continue embracing new technologies and strategies to ensure our hens are well-cared for.”

In 2000, McDonald’s USA said it became the first food service concept to adopt a standard for hen housing systems that provided more space per bird than the industry standard. In 2010, the company partnered with the Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply to research various hen housing systems and the impact on animal health and welfare, the environment, worker health, food safety and food affordability.

The move follows other major sourcing commitments announced by McDonald’s in the past year. In April, the company said it would source only chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine by 2017 and to sell milk from cows that have not been treated with rbST, the artificial growth hormone, in its U.S. restaurants.

The Humane Society of the United States said McDonald’s transition to cage-free eggs will spare nearly 8 million animals each year from life inside cramped cages.

“This is a watershed moment in a decades-long effort to eliminate the cruelest confinement from our food supply,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States. “McDonald’s admirable move makes clear that egg productions’ future is cage-free.”

Dunkin’ Donuts announced a similar initiative earlier this year. The coffee chain said it had taken steps to make 10% of all eggs sourced for its breakfast sandwiches in the United States cage-free by the end of 2015. The move is part of a larger effort that may include transitioning to 100% cage-free eggs globally.