Today, we are launching a new campaign that calls out McDonald’s for allowing extreme animal suffering in its chicken supply chain. Our goal is to get the fast food giant to join its competitors—including Burger King, Subway, Jack in the Box and nearly a hundred others—in adopting meaningful reforms for these animals, whose suffering occurs at an almost unfathomable magnitude, given the fact that American producers raise some nine billion chickens every year.
Our website, UnhappyMeals.com, will educate consumers about the conditions of factory-farmed chickens, like those raised for McDonald’s, and urge people to contact McDonald’s. We’re also airing television commercials to press the company to take action.
A majority of the chickens raised for food are bred to grow so large, and so fast, that they suffer extreme leg pain and even heart attacks. Many are unable even to move. Researchers in Arkansas, the heart of chicken country, found that if a human baby grew in the same way, she’d weigh a whopping 660 pounds at just two months of age.
What makes things even worse for these genetically manipulated birds is the way they’re packed into massive, barren warehouses that lack any environmental enrichments necessary to allow them to express their natural behaviors.
Dozens of other major food companies have pledged to overhaul the way chickens are bred and raised for their products. But McDonald’s has chosen to make vague public relations statements about animal welfare instead. For example, while these other companies have announced concise, meaningful, time-bound commitments to eliminate the worst abuses chickens suffer as a result of the way they’re bred, McDonald’s has said that it will “study” the issue. And while these other companies have announced very clear mandates in terms of providing more space, environmental enrichments, improved air quality and better lighting conditions, McDonald’s statements around these issues remain imprecise and noncommittal and any of the standards the company has set fall far short of being meaningful.
We are hopeful that McDonald’s will correct course on this important animal welfare issue. In 2012, we partnered with McDonald's to announce its plans to end the gestation crate confinement of mother pigs in its pork supply chain, which was a game-changer. In 2015, we once again partnered with McDonald’s on its announcement to switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs.
The company has the opportunity now to take the same kind of meaningful action for broiler chickens. And it should.
We would welcome an opportunity to work with McDonald’s to help the company join its competitors in meaningfully improving the lives of chickens in its supply chain. In the meantime, we hope you’ll take action by visiting UnhappyMeals.com and calling McDonald’s today.