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McDonald’s Vote Against Cage-Free

McDonald’s, home the happy meal, has committed to using 100% cage-free eggs in Europe, yet refuses to do the same in the United States.  They will not agree to even 5% cage-free usage.  The EU will ban all battery cages for laying hens by 2012, faced with increasing concern surrounding animal welfare and food politics.  Maybe this is why, according to the NYTimes, “Total sales [for the company] rose 9.1 percent, including an 0.1 percent decline in the United States, a 6.7 percent rise in Europe…”  Maybe there are a few of us out there who don’t want to support McDonalds hypocratic business ethics?

The American consumer, however, doesn’t yet take enough interest in food quality to demand the changes that EU citizens dictate.  The underlying tone of a voluntary report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, which sites the “huge economical costs to producers,” is meant to discourage the change.  Thus, McDonald’s Board of Directors has strongly suggested  (see pp. 16-17)its shareholders vote against the move to cage-free eggs, as it is not in their “best interest.”  Moreover, says McDonald’s, “there seems to be a significant gap in scientific knowledge related to a wide range of sustainability impacts of laying hen housing,” even though the Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists,  Greenpeace, and the Humane Society of the United States (among many others), strongly oppose battery cage eggs. 

For better or worse, McDonalds is an industry leader.  “According to Lebhar-Friedman, at least 96 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 65 have eaten at one of 30,000 McDonald’s restaurants worldwide. McDonald’s spends more than $1 billion on advertising and promotion every year…” If THEY aren’t going to change, why don’t WE change?  Yeah, the fries are really, really good.  I’m not saying give it all up, I’m just saying that if you care about your food quality, let your voice be heard so the changes are made.  This is their chance to wow the world, to leverage others to focus on people, profit, and planet.

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