McDonald’s shareholders will soon receive proxies asking them to vote on The Humane Society of the United States’ resolution urging the fast-food chain to stop lagging behind its competitors and start switching to cage-free eggs. A representative of The HSUS will present the resolution at the company’s May shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Unlike many of its competitors, McDonald’s-U.S. only uses eggs from hens confined in battery cages—barren enclosures so tiny, the birds can barely move an inch their entire lives. McDonald’s closest U.S. competitor, Burger King, started using cage-free eggs two years ago. Retailers such as Quiznos, Denny’s, Hardee’s, and Carl’s Jr. also use cage-free eggs.

McDonald’s exclusive use of eggs from caged hens in the U.S. starkly contrasts with its European policies. McDonald’s U.K. locations use only cage-free eggs, and the company has committed to phasing out all battery cage whole eggs in its European Union locations by 2010.

“Each hen laying eggs for McDonald’s in the United States is confined in a cage so restrictive she has less space than a sheet of letter-sized paper on which to live for more than a year,” says Paul Shapiro, senior director of The HSUS’ factory farming campaign. “McDonald’s-U.S. is lagging behind its competition and is at odds with overwhelming public opposition to battery cage confinement.”

McDonald’s own U.S. Animal Welfare Council member Diane Halverson wrote, “The standard industry practice of confining laying hens in battery cages is an institutionalized cruelty that must be abolished.”

News, Carl's Jr., Denny's, Hardee's, McDonald's