McDonald’s has kicked its PR machine into high gear after a terrific undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals at Sparboe Farms, one of McDonald’s primary egg suppliers, revealed that workers grabbed hens by the throat and slammed them into cages, that an employee swung a hen by her feet, that male chicks were tossed into plastic bags to suffocate, that rotting corpses of hens were left in cages with live birds, and other horrendous abuses.
In response, McDonald’s announced that it will stop buying eggs from Sparboe Farms. Hang on, though—don’t let McDonald’s PR move lead you to believe that this will make a real difference for animals. We’ve seen it before. What Mercy for Animals uncovered is business as usual for factory farms, as countless PETA investigations, even of other McDonald’s suppliers, have shown.
One example: A 2007 PETA investigation of a Union City, Tennessee, slaughterhouse that supplies McDonald’s with much of its chicken flesh revealed that employees yanked birds out of shackles so aggressively that they broke the birds’ legs, amused themselves by forcing as many as six chickens into a shackle that was designed for one bird, and forcefully slammed chickens against shackles. The electrified water bath that is supposed to stun chickens before their throats are cut was not working for two days, and slaughterhouse operators knowingly allowed tens of thousands of chickens to have their throats slit while the birds were still conscious.
It isn’t good enough for McDonald’s to simply switch to buying eggs from another lousy supplier with no stricter standards of “care” than the previous cruel supplier. On filthy, intensive-confinement farms—which describes every one of McDonald’s and KFC’s suppliers—hens are crammed into feces-filled wire cages with less space than a sheet of paper for each bird, and chicks’ beaks are burned off without painkillers.
What consumers must demand are meaningful reforms and an end to the worst abuses suffered by the chickens killed for McDonald’s and KFC. Here’s one way to help chickens: Encourage the chains to switch to a less-cruel slaughter method called “controlled-atmosphere killing” (CAK). All the abuses that chickens suffer in slaughterhouses would be eliminated if McDonald’s required its suppliers to switch to CAK, because with CAK, the birds are dead before they are shackled, bled, and scalded in defeathering tanks. Yet McDonald’s and KFC have dragged their feet for years instead of switching methods, even though CAK is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and even though McDonald’s European suppliers adopted this method years ago.
Buyer beware: If you eat at McDonald’s or KFC, you’re eating food created via extreme cruelty to animals. Please boycott these companies and click here to tell them that you’re not lovin’ their chicken abuse.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post