At McDonald’s annual meeting today in Oak Brook, Illinois, Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) factory farming campaign, will urge shareholders to approve the HSUS’ resolution encouraging the fast food chain to decrease its use of eggs from caged hens.

As the HSUS states in its resolution, unlike its top competitors and many of its foreign sister-companies, all eggs sold by McDonald’s U.S. come from hens confined in battery cages. The HSUS’ shareholder resolution asks the chain, which has more than 13,000 locations nationwide, to commit to using 5 percent cage-free eggs in the U.S.

California and Michigan have both passed laws that outlaw the cage confinement of hens and McDonald’s closest competitor, Burger King, started using cage-free eggs in 2007. Other restaurant chains, including Wendy’s, Sonic, Subway, Red Robin, Quiznos, Denny’s, Hardee’s, and Carl’s Jr. also use cage-free eggs in their U.S. operations. Multinational food manufacturer Unilever announced in February that it will convert all 350 million eggs in Hellmann’s mayonnaise to cage-free.

“McDonald’s could reduce the suffering of the hens in its supply chain by starting to phase in cage-free eggs in the U.S.,” Shapiro says. “Consumer trends, legislative activities, McDonald’s competitors, and even many McDonald’s operations outside the U.S. all favor cage-free egg production.”

In contrast to its U.S. policy, McDonald’s only uses cage-free eggs in the United Kingdom and will only use cage-free whole eggs in the European Union by 2010.

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