McDonald’s is opposed to a proposal that would require the fast-food chain to buy five percent cage-free eggs for its restaurants in the United States, reports the New York Times.
McDonald’s board of directors is recommending that the company’s shareholders vote against the proposal from the Humane Society. The board said the science was not available to support the transition to cage-free eggs.
The restaurant chain also says that its egg suppliers can use “battery cages” that provide 72 square inches of floor space per hen, but the Humane Society says it is not enough space for the hens.
Some major fast food companies, including Burger King, Subway and Wendy’s, as well as retailers Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s, have made some commitment to purchasing or selling cage-free eggs, according to the New York Times.
McDonald’s, along with Bob Evans Farms, United Egg Producers, and others, have organized the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) to evaluate the different housing systems for egg-laying hens, reports Truth about Trade and Technology.
Other members of the coalition include commercial egg producer Daybreak Foods, Cargill, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, the University of California-Davis and the American Humane Association. The American Veterinary Medical Association and U.S. Department of Agriculture are member advisers, and the Environmental Defense Fund is a non-member adviser.
Studies are already underway at Michigan State and California-Davis to compare cage housings used by most commercial egg producers with aviaries and enriched housing with nests and perches.
The coalition said the research will help egg producers, food manufacturers, restaurants and retailers make more informed decisions regarding their egg purchases.
But Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Humane Society’s factory farming campaign, told the New York Times that McDonald’s has already committed to 100 percent cage-free eggs by the end of 2010 for its European locations so there is a big disparity between what it’s doing there and in the United States.
As an example, McDonald’s Europe launched its Flagship Farms initiative last year, aimed at promoting sustainable agricultural practices among its suppliers and the farming community.
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s attributed the disparity to the high consumer demand for cage-free eggs in Europe and its more robust cage-free egg production infrastructure.