McDonald’s cuts egg supplier after undercover animal cruelty video


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McDonald’s Corp. cut ties with egg supplier Sparboe Egg Farms after undercover footage showed cruel conditions at facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado.

Video from nonprofit advocacy group Mercy for Animals shows hens and chicks being thrown into cages by their beaks and throats, hens laying eggs in cases alongside rotted and decomposing birds, chicks with open wounds and torn beaks trapped in cage wire and others being suffocated in plastic bags.


Workers also burned off chickens’ beaks without painkillers and stuffed them into “tiny, filthy cages where they couldn’t freely spread their wings,” said Nathan Runkle, the group’s executive director.

“McDonald’s secret ingredient in every Egg McMuffin is horrific cruelty to animals,” he said in a statement.

The fast-food giant responded with a long statement from Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president of sustainability. He said that the company would no longer accept eggs from Sparboe but emphasized that “this is not a food safety issue for our menu items.”

The “behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable,” Langert said, adding that “the most alarming actions on video” did not occur at the Iowa facility that supplied McDonald’s restaurants.

Langer’s full statement is included after the jump. The extremely graphic Mercy for Animals video is also included.

Full McDonald’s statement:

“McDonald’s expects all of our suppliers to meet our stringent requirements for delivering high quality food prepared in a humane and responsible manner. Based upon recent information, we have informed our direct supplier, Cargill, that we are no longer accepting eggs from its supplier, Sparboe. This decision is based on McDonald’s and Cargill’s concern regarding the management of Sparboe’s facilities. This is not a food safety issue for our menu items. We can assure our customers that eggs in our entire supply chain meet McDonald’s high standards for quality and safety. Our primary commitment is to our customers, and we will continue serving safe, high-quality food without disruption. Regarding the undercover videos, the behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable. McDonald’s wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. We take this responsibility -- along with our customers’ trust -- very seriously. It’s important to note that the most alarming actions on video did not occur at Sparboe’s Vincent, Iowa, facility that supplies McDonald’s. Nonetheless, our extremely high standards for our suppliers prohibit this conduct. McDonald’s cares about how our food is sourced and we have a long history of action and commitment to improve the welfare of animals in our supply chain. We are a founding member of the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) and are participating in an unprecedented three-year study that compares traditional, cage-free, and enriched laying hen housing systems on a commercial scale. For our customers, that means we’re working with scientists and suppliers to determine the most optimal hen housing method considering impacts on hen health & welfare, food safety, environment, and other important factors. McDonald’s is proud to be recognized as a leader in the restaurant industry for serving safe, quality food. Customers can feel good about eating at McDonald’s.”



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-- Tiffany Hsu

Video: Mercy for Animals