On Friday, fast food giant McDonald’s released their global chicken welfare strategy, setting the foundation for improvements in bird management to deliver measurable physical outcomes.
Disregards key welfare issues
We are disappointed that, unfortunately, it completely disregards the key welfare issues currently being addressed by the broiler industry.
Other companies are tackling the fundamental problems of fast growth breeds, and the basic need to provide enough space for them to live, however McDonald's commitment has failed to adequately address these issues.
Competitors doing more
Over 50 companies in the US, including McDonald’s main competitors, Subway and Burger King, have recently committed to make these meaningful improvements to the lives of chickens, and Kraft Heinz made such a commitment on Friday too. So it’s disappointing that McDonald’s, with their experience and influence in the marketplace, cannot commit to the same welfare standards on a regional basis.
When there are so many companies responding to the increasing consumer concern for animal welfare and the weight of scientific evidence showing the need to improve broiler welfare, we expected so much more of McDonald’s.
A disappointing move
We are especially surprised by this disappointing move, as McDonald’s has traditionally led the way in animal welfare. In September 2015, they made an announcement to fully transition to cage-free eggs in all their restaurants in the U.S. and Canada (within 10 years). This caused a huge ripple across the industry with around 200 US companies, including Walmart – the largest grocer in the US - following suit.
In the UK, they only use free-range eggs (whole and ingredient), organic milk from dairy cows with access to pasture grazing, and RSPCA assured pork across their entire menu. As well as this, they have won multiple food business awards over the years.
Dr Tracey Jones said: “We’ve been working with McDonald’s for nearly a decade and admire their leadership and animal welfare credentials, particularly in the UK, but also what they have been doing for laying hens across the globe.
"Unfortunately, their failure to recognise the basic needs of broiler chickens, by providing them with enough space and natural light and addressing the need for slower growing breeds – even at a regional level - is disappointing and we urge them to work more on advancing their regional policies.”
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