McDonalds – Implement Globally Farm Animal Welfare Standards (2001 -2002)

Outcome: 5.3%


Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report to shareholders by October 2002, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, reviewing McDonald’s animal welfare standards with the view to adopting and enforcing consistent animal welfare standards internationally.


Our company’s public policy and practices towards the welfare of farm animals, as currently implemented in the United States and United Kingdom, make McDonald’s a corporate leader in those countries.

  • In the U.S., our company has prohibited some abuses and details these improvements on our company’s Web site, which includes this statement: “McDonald’s believes that the humane treatment of animals is an integral part of our world class supplier system. Therefore, we buy all our beef, pork and poultry products from suppliers who maintain the highest standards and share McDonald’s commitment to animal welfare.”
  • In the UK, McDonald’s has gone further, prohibiting battery cages for hens and gestation crates for pigs. McDonald’s stamps the RSPCA’s “Freedom Food” logo on its products that contain eggs, and in an October 2001 advertisement, our company declares that it “Has established a comprehensive set of animal welfare standards for suppliers… Has independent food safety auditing systems for all beef, pork, and chicken abattoirs…”

By failing to adopt animal welfare guidelines internationally, however, McDonald’s continues to buy from suppliers engaged in egregious cruelty towards animals in contravention of our company’s stated policies.

  • Approximately one-half of our company’s 29,000 restaurants are not in the U.S., U.K., or Australia. Some standards implemented in the UK apply exclusively in that country, where fewer than one-twentieth of McDonald’s restaurants operate.
  • Outside the U.S., U.K., and Australia, there is no evidence that McDonald’s has implemented animal welfare standards, despite practices that our company has prohibited elsewhere.
  • As one example, our company has been provided with video documentation of a purported McDonald’s supplier in Central America stabbing cows in the back of the neck in an egregiously abusive manner of slaughter. McDonald’s has more than 1,500 restaurants in Latin America, where farm animal welfare standards are virtually non-existent.

Our company risks harm to its good reputation and image if it continues to buy from suppliers engaged in such abuse of animals.

  • Our chief competitors, Burger King and Wendy’s, have adopted standards similar to our U.S. standards, and apply these standards internationally.
  • Bob Langert, McDonald’s Senior Director for Community Affairs has stated that: “No longer are extremists driving the debate. Mainstream consumers are the primary force.”
  • Newspapers and television stations around the world have reported extensively on animal welfare campaigns and our company’s animal welfare standards.
  • Animal rights activists have not targeted our company in any concerted way since McDonald’s adopted guidelines and enforced them more than one year ago.

Consequently, we urge our company to continue to protect and enhance its good reputation and business by ensuring that its suppliers worldwide meet the highest standards for the humane treatment of farm animals.

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