McDonald’s – Issue Report on Efforts to Implement More Humane Slaughter Method (2005 – 2006)

Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn

WHEREAS, on its Web site, McDonald’s states that “treating animals with care and respect is an integral part of an overall quality assurance program that makes good business sense” and that “animals should be free from cruelty, abuse and neglect”; and
WHEREAS,McDonald’s has already made commendable steps toward improving animal welfare; and
WHEREAS, despite its commitment to animal welfare, McDonald’s continues to purchase chickens from suppliers that use the outdated method of electrical stunning, in which the birds’ legs are snapped into metal shackles and the birds are shocked with an electric current, have their throats slit, and are dropped into tanks of scalding-hot water so that they are often still conscious when they suffer this hideous cruelty; and
WHEREAS, acknowledging the cruelty of electrical stunning and the need for humane slaughter methods in order to retain a competitive advantage, our company commissioned an Animal Welfare Feasibility Study of Controlled Atmosphere Stunning for Broilers (“the report”) that addresses the feasibility of phasing in a method of slaughter called “controlled-atmosphere killing” (CAK), which replaces the oxygen that birds are breathing with inert gasses, gently and effectively putting them to sleep; and
WHEREAS, the report concurred that CAK is, as animal welfare experts have described it, the most humane method of poultry slaughter ever developed and admitted that CAK “has advantages [over electrical stunning] from both an animal welfare and meat quality perspective … obviates potential distress and injury … can expeditiously and effectively stun and kill broilers with relatively low rates of aversion or other distress” and would eliminate the pain of premature shocks and inadequate stunning that are associated with electrical stunning; and
WHEREAS, the report further concludes that McDonald’s European suppliers that use CAK have experienced improvements in bird handling, stunning efficiency, working conditions, and meat yield and quality;[1] and
WHEREAS, although CAK is optimal for both the birds and for profit, McDonald’s has yet to implement it and has asserted a need for further research despite the fact that CAK has been widely and successfully used in Europe for nearly a decade and that there is no competing scientific claim suggesting that CAK is not optimal for animal welfare; and
WHEREAS, in its report, McDonald’s represents that it will “accelerate further developmental work” on CAK but provides no timeline or plan of action; and
WHEREAS, considering that McDonald’s commits on its Web site to “lead our industry [by] working with our suppliers and industry experts to advance animal welfare practices and technology,” if McDonald’s aspires to be the industry leader, then it must truly “accelerate” the development of CAK as promised and not merely delay it under the guise of needing further study;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue interim reports to shareholders following the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2006 that detail the progress made toward accelerating development of CAK.

[1]These are the same improvements that Hormel Foods recently touted in a letter to PETA regarding CAK.

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