Walmart, Wendy's, Burger King, and Subway have all jumped on the cage-free egg bandwagon. Each of these food retailers has made some sort of commitment to providing food products made with eggs from chickens not raised in cages. In fact, making the boldest move of them all, Subway is now implementing a plan to go completely cage-free. But the golden arches won't jump off that cliff because everyone else has - on Friday their board of directors recommended that company shareholders vote against a proposal that would require 5 percent of the chain's eggs to be cage-free.
"As we have examined this issue over the years, we have determined that there is no agreement in the global scientific community about how to balance the advantages and disadvantages of laying hen housing systems," was the statement from the board.
The requirement was pushed on the chain by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that owns 101 shares of the company's stock. Another proposal is being made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that owns 79 shares of the company's stock. They are advocating that McDonalds suppliers adopt Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS), a slaughter method, within five years instead of Low-Voltage Electrical Stunning (LVES.) The board is urging a "no" vote on this proposal, too. Their statement on this issue was as follows:
"While the proponent presents CAS as a less cruel method than LVES, the reality is that there has not yet been consensus among animal welfare scientists that CAS is a better or more efficient form of rendering chickens insensible before slaughter."
If you'd like to read the entire details of McDonald's board response to the proposals, we've posted the document here. While these proposals would not directly impact the dairy industry, proposals that food retailers take a regulatory stand on how food is produced is certainly becoming more common. While it may be eggs today, milk may be tomorrow. It is nice to see that one major food retailer is standing up and saying no to animal welfare activists without a scientific backbone.