Industry News | December 8, 2010

HSUS Again Calls on McDonald's to Go Cage Free

Following food safety concerns recently highlighted by the largest egg recall in U.S. history, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) submitted a shareholder resolution Wednesday urging Oak Brook, Illinois–based McDonald’s Corporation to create a plan for transitioning its U.S. locations to cage-free eggs. Scientific studies have documented that cage-free egg facilities have significantly lower rates of Salmonella contamination than cage facilities.

“Piling hens into cages so small the birds can’t even extend their wings is both an animal welfare and food safety threat,” says Dr. Michael Greger, director of public health and animal agriculture for the HSUS. “It’s time for the McDonald’s to follow the lead of major companies and phase-in cage-free eggs, which are better for animals and safer for consumers.”

Unlike many of its competitors, McDonald’s U.S. only uses eggs from hens confined in battery cages. Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Subway, Sonic, Quiznos, Hardee’s, Red Robin, Carl's Jr., IHOP, Cracker Barrel, and Golden Corral have pledged to include cage-free eggs in their supply. Hellmann’s mayonnaise announced that it will convert all 350 million eggs it uses each year to cage-free. And supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, Costco, and Safeway have taken steps to increase their cage-free egg sales.

All of the more than half a billion eggs involved in this summer’s recall came from hens in battery cages. The best available science—a study of more than 5,000 egg operations across 25 countries—found that cage-free facilities are significantly less likely to harbor Salmonella.

McDonald’s exclusive use of eggs from caged hens in the U.S. is different than its policies in other countries. McDonald’s U.K. locations only use cage-free eggs, and the company will no longer use battery cage whole eggs in its European Union locations by the end of 2010.