November 1, 2017

We’re Not Lovin’ It: How the New Animal Welfare Policy from McDonald’s Falls Short

In 2016, consumers and animal advocates rejoiced when McDonald’s® committed to a cage-free egg policy that represented meaningful change for the laying hens in its supply chain. By contrast, the fast food giant’s new policy for broiler (meat-type) chickens is a surprising disappointment. 

There is no question that chickens raised for meat in modern farming systems suffer immensely due to their rapid, unnatural growth rates and crowded, barren housing conditions. In recent years, over 60 companies—including Dunkin’ Donuts®, Burger King®, Subway®, Panera Bread® and Chipotle®—have vowed to be a part of a common solution by committing to meaningful and specific welfare standards for chickens.

While McDonald’s did commit to improving slaughter practices for chickens and using third-party, on-farm auditing, and deserves to be commended for that, the new policy disappoints because unlike every other company addressing chicken welfare, McDonald’s has failed to commit to raising a healthier breed and fell short on giving birds the same level of adequate space, light or litter conditions. These are basic provisions birds need and deserve.

Because McDonald’s profits immensely off the lives of animals, it owes it to them to ensure that their lives are as free from pain as possible. It’s the right thing to do, and it is what consumers demand. If McDonald’s is serious about its responsibility to animals’ well-being, its policy must be strengthened.