McDonald's to study hen housing options
But key animal welfare proponent says the study only will delay the fast-food giant's move into the U.S. "cage-free" market
By Mike Hughlett Tribune reporter
4:10 PM CDT, May 21, 2009
Seeking to buy eggs produced in a potentially more humane way, Oak Brook-based McDonald's Corp. Thursday announced it will undertake a large-scale study involving tens of thousands of hens.
But the Humane Society of the United States said the study will likely delay any significant move by McDonald's into the U.S. "cage-free" egg market – an animal welfare step some of its rivals have taken.
Most eggs produced in the U.S. come from chickens housed in so-called "battery cages": pens shared by several birds, each of which gets just less than 70 square inches of living space.
While the egg industry has voluntarily increased cage space in recent years, some animal welfare groups have continued to criticize the battery system for cramped conditions. In a referendum last November, California voters outlawed battery cages.
McDonald's is teaming up with one of its primary egg suppliers, Cargill, and several animal-welfare scientists to conduct a commercial-scale study of housing alternatives for hens, including cage-free and so-called "enriched housing." The latter involves cages, but includes nests and perches.
But Paul Shapiro, head of the Humane Society's factory farming initiative, said that since the study will take two years, McDonald's will be kept from making the "same modest reforms its competitors have already adopted." Read More
When reading this article, I got the impression that HSUS is scared of the results that may be released from McDonald’s study of the issue. If HSUS was truly interested in what is best for the livestock, they would have no reason to disparage the fast food chain for wanting to do a comprehensive study. This is another example of the bully mentality that HSUS has and the juvenile fit they throw in the media when they don’t get their way. They know that there is no good research to support cage free hens and the truth is what they fear.