Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Activists expose cruelty at McDonald's egg supplier

November 18, 2011

AFP - Undercover animal rights activists exposed shocking cruelty to chickens at McDonald's egg supplier, prompting the fast food giant to cut ties to the US firm after the video was released Friday. "Unfortunately, much of the abuse we documented is not only standard, it's legal," said Nathan Runkle, director of Mercy for Animals. +++

There are no federal laws governing the treatment of poultry on US farms and most states have sweeping exemptions for farmed animals which allow for abuses to run rampant without prosecution, Runkle said.

The situation is not much better for cows and pigs -- which are at least supposed to be stunned before slaughter -- because of a lack of oversight, he added.

"We've done over a dozen investigations at factory farms from coast to coast," Runkle told AFP. "What we have found is that every time we've sent an investigator into one of these facilities they've come out with shocking evidence of abuse and neglect."

The latest video shows chicks having their beaks being burned off by a machine and then tossed into cages and barely identifiable corpses of chickens that were left to rot in cages. It also showed unwanted chicks left to die in plastic bags, chickens mangled by the bars of overcrowded cages, and a plant worker walking down the hall swinging a live chicken on a rope in a wide circle as it flaps its wings in distress.

"The behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable," McDonald's said in a statement. "McDonald's wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. We take this responsibility -- along with our customers' trust -- very seriously."

The fast-food giant said it has directed its supplier, Cargill, to stop sourcing McDonald eggs from Sparboe, which insists that the video depicts acts that are "totally unacceptable and completely at odds with our values."

The family-run egg company said it launched an internal investigation after learning of the video and has fired four workers who engaged in mistreatment of the chickens. In a message posted on a dedicated website, owner Beth Sparboe Schnell said an independent auditor from Iowa State University confirmed the company is in "full compliance with our animal welfare policies."

She noted that Sparboe Farms was the first US egg producer to have its "science-based animal care production guideline" certified by the US Department of Agriculture.

November 21, 2011 McDonald's replies to Carmina Gooch's letter:

Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's.

McDonald's expects all of our suppliers to meet our stringent requirements for delivering high quality food prepared in a humane and responsible manner.  Based upon recent information, we have informed our direct supplier, Cargill, that we are no longer accepting eggs from its supplier, Sparboe.  This decision is based on McDonald's and Cargill's concern regarding the management of Sparboe's facilities.

This is not a food safety issue for our menu items.  We can assure our customers that eggs in our entire supply chain meet McDonald's high standards for quality and safety. 

Our primary commitment is to our customers, and we will continue serving safe, high-quality food without disruption. 

Regarding the undercover videos, the behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable. McDonald's wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. We take this responsibility along with our customers trust very seriously. It's important to note that the most alarming actions on video did not occur at Sparboe's Vincent, Iowa facility that supplies McDonald's. Nonetheless, our extremely high standards for our suppliers prohibit this conduct.

 McDonald's cares about how our food is sourced and we have a long history of action and commitment to improve the welfare of animals in our supply chain. We are a founding member of the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) and are participating in an unprecedented three-year study that compares traditional, cage-free, and enriched laying hen housing systems on a commercial scale. For our customers, that means we're working with scientists and suppliers to determine the most optimal hen housing method considering impacts on hen health & welfare, food safety, environment, and other important factors.

McDonald's is proud to be recognized as a leader in the restaurant industry for serving safe, quality food. Customers can feel good about eating at McDonald's. Again, thank you for contacting McDonald's. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again soon under the Golden Arches.

McDonald's Cruelty

Volume & profit are the key drivers of commerce/business with animals expendable production machines.

This horrible suffering occurs, one has to remind oneself, primarily because we enjoy the taste of meat; and because our appetites are financially profitable.

"In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people." Ruth Harrison