Blood on the Egg McMuffins, Buying Cruelty with Breakfast

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.]

Related Care2 Stories

Landmark Agreement Reached for Egg-Laying Hens

Ground Up Alive: Baby Chicks Suffer

Live Chicken Vending Machine (Video)

Photo from video by Mercy for Animals

194 comments

F H.
Walter H.3 years ago

I wish that whoever does this to chickens,gets this done to them. I want humans that are mean to chickens to suffer the exact same cruelty.That would make me very happy. No more mcdonalds for me ever again.

Scott Alan
Scott Alan4 years ago

Anyone concerned about the abuse of animals on factory farms should OPPOSE recently introduced federal legislation, HR 3798, that would keep laying hens IN battery cages forever, while eliminating the rights of voters! Learn more -- and take action now! Please visit: http://www.StopTheRottenEggBill.org.

Jackie Mckenna
Jackie Mckenna4 years ago

I too am happy that I've gone Vegetarian

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S.4 years ago

Although I'm glad McDonald's has cut off Sparboe as a supplier in light of such extreme animal mistreatment, I certainly wouldn't classify this company as humane to animals. They were one of the last big fast food chains to even consider cage free eggs and have still not committed to it. I'm also not sure why Wolfgang Puck is mentioned here as an animal advocate, since he has a fois gras farm that is inhumane by definition.

Swati S.
Swati S.4 years ago

Their life is real HELL..... who consumes not only murdered animals dead body .....but their DEATH AGONY TOO.............

Ellie Damann
.4 years ago

i wish i could go vegan but i would starve without meat and animal products

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago

Stop from going into McDo stores.

Pamela H.
Pamela H.4 years ago

Also, male chicks get thrown live into a grinder to be made into other chicken 'flavoured' products like chicken flavoured stock, salt etc.

Pamela H.
Pamela H.4 years ago

I haven't touched that toxic non-food for decades. The last time I stepped foot into one of their 'restaurants' it was to stick a 'Go Veg' poster on the wall in the ladies :D

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.