In a move that gives animal-welfare advocates a small window of hope, McDonald’s has dropped one of its major egg suppliers after an undercover investigation revealed horrendous cruelty. The Mercy for Animals undercover investigation revealed that Sparboe Egg Farms was routinely subjecting chickens to:
- Hens crammed into filthy wire cages with less space for each bird than a standard-sized sheet of paper to live her entire miserable life, unable to fully stretch her wings or engage in most other natural behaviors
- Workers burning off the beaks of young chicks without any painkillers and callously throwing them into cages, some missing the cage doors and hitting the floor
- Workers grabbing hens by their throats and ramming them into battery cages
- Rotted hens, decomposed beyond recognition, left in cages with hens still laying eggs for human consumption
- A worker tormenting a bird by swinging her around in the air while her legs were caught in a grabbing device – violence described as “torture” by another worker
- A worker shoving a bird into the pocket of another employee without any regard for the animal’s fear and suffering
- Chicks trapped and mangled in cage wire ; others suffering from open wounds and torn beaks
- Live chicks thrown into plastic bags to be suffocated
On the McDonald’s Web site, Vice President of Sustainability Bob Langert writes:
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 McDonalds.
Very few jurisdictions treat chickens with any kind of respect or compassion. Mercy for Animals details a handful: The European Union, California, and Michigan ban battery cages. Whole Foods, Hellman’s, Wolfgang Puck, Subway and many universities and colleges refuse to sell or use eggs from hens raised in them.
McDonald’s is the largest egg purchaser in America. They could nearly wipe out the worst of chicken abuse with the stroke of a pen because other retailers and fast-food outlets would follow suit.
As consumers, we vote with our dollars. Everyone who eats eggs or chicken or who feeds pets makes regular decisions about animal cruelty. Dollars that feed the industrialized poultry operations support ongoing abuse. With each purchase and each mouthful, we choose the kind of world we want.
[Warning: This video is deeply disturbing, as are the conditions in which chickens are raised.]
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Photo from video by Mercy for Animals