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May 19, 2010

The Humane Society of the United States Urges McDonald’s Shareholders to Vote for Higher Animal Welfare Standards

At McDonald's annual meeting Thursday in Oak Brook, Ill., Paul Shapiro, senior director of The Humane Society of the United States' factory farming campaign, will urge shareholders to approve The HSUS' resolution encouraging the fast-food chain to decrease its use of eggs from caged hens.

When:  May 20, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.
Where:   Prairie Ballroom at The Lodge, McDonald's Office Campus, Oak Brook

As The HSUS states in its resolution, unlike its top competitors and many of its foreign sister-companies, all eggs sold by McDonald's U.S. come from hens confined in battery cages—barren enclosures so small, the birds can't even spread their wings and can barely move for their entire lives. The HSUS' shareholder resolution simply asks the chain, which has more than 13,000 locations nationwide, to commit to using five percent cage-free eggs in the U.S.

California and Michigan have both passed laws that outlaw the cage confinement of hens and McDonald's closest competitor, Burger King, started using cage-free eggs in 2007. Other restaurant chains, including Wendy's, Sonic, Subway, Red Robin, Quiznos, Denny's, Hardee's, and Carl's Jr., also use cage-free eggs in their U.S. operations. Multinational food manufacturer Unilever announced in February that it will convert all 350 million eggs in Hellmann's mayonnaise to cage-free.

"McDonald's could reduce the suffering of the hens in its supply chain by starting to phase in cage-free eggs in the U.S.," stated Shapiro. "Consumer trends, legislative activities, McDonald's competitors, and even many McDonald's operations outside the U.S. all favor cage-free egg production."

In contrast to its U.S. policy, McDonald's only uses cage-free eggs in the United Kingdom and will only use cage-free whole eggs in the European Union by 2010—a fact that the company has publicly touted. Keith Kenny, senior director, McDonald's-Europe Supply Chain, stated:

We are very pleased to be recognised by Compassion in World Farming for the work we are continuing to do throughout the EU to phase out the use of eggs laid by caged birds from our menus. Our customers are increasingly interested in animal welfare and sustainability. We also believe this is the right thing to do. This is the latest step in McDonald's evolution from being a fast food company to a company that serves good food, fast. Eradicating the use of 'caged' whole eggs from our supply chain throughout the EU is a complex challenge, but we are confident of achieving this before the end of 2010.

Facts:

  • The vast majority of egg-laying hens are cruelly confined in cages so small the animals can barely move for their entire lives.
  • 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, like caged hens, 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.
  • Studies have shown that not confining animals in cages may also improve food safety.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

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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