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December 10, 2009

Shareholder Resolution Urges McDonald’s to Decrease Animal Cruelty in its Supply Chain

The Humane Society of the United States submitted a shareholder resolution Thursday urging Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corporation to switch at least 5 percent of the eggs it uses in its U.S. locations to cage-free. An HSUS representative will present the resolution at the company's next shareholder meeting in the spring.

"Every hen laying eggs for McDonald's in this country is crammed into a cage so small, she has less space than a sheet of paper to spend her entire life," stated Paul Shapiro, senior director of The HSUS' factory farming campaign. "McDonald's is lagging behind its competition in the United States and is at odds with both overwhelming public opposition to battery cage confinement and its own policies abroad."

Unlike many of its competitors, in the United States, McDonald's only uses eggs from hens confined in battery cages—barren enclosures so tiny, the birds can barely move for their entire lives. McDonald's closest U.S. competitor, Burger King, started using cage-free eggs nearly three years ago. Other competitors, including Quiznos, Denny's, Wendy's, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. also use cage-free eggs.

McDonald's exclusive use of eggs from caged hens in the United States starkly contrasts with its policies in other countries. McDonald's U.K. locations only use cage-free eggs, and the company has committed to phasing out all battery cage whole eggs in its European Union locations by 2010. As The HSUS points out in its resolution, Keith Kenny, senior director of McDonald's European Supply Chain, called this "the right thing to do" and said that it is "the latest step in McDonald's evolution from being a fast food company to a company that serves good food, fast." The company also uses cage-free eggs in New Zealand.

Facts:

  • In a landslide November vote, Californians approved the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act—a new law making it a criminal offense (with a phase-out period) to confine hens in battery cages, pigs in gestation crates and calves in veal crates. California is the top agricultural state, McDonald's birthplace and home to hundreds of McDonald's locations.
  • U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in barren battery cages so small, they can't even spread their wings. According to McDonald's own U.S. egg supplier guidelines, each bird need only have a mere 72 square inches of cage space—less than a sheet of paper. Extensive scientific research confirms that this causes suffering.
  • Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests—all behaviors permanently denied to hens crammed into battery cages.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at humanesociety.org.

 

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