McDonalds – Report on Animal Welfare Standards (2002 – 2003)

Outcome: 5.3%

Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report to shareholders by October 2003, 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.
SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Our company’s farmed animal welfare practices in the U.S. and U.K. make McDonald’s a corporate leader in those countries.

  • In its “Animal Welfare Guiding Principles,” our company states, “McDonald’s commitment to animal welfare is global … McDonald’s sets annual performance objectives to measure our improvement and will ensure our purchasing strategy is aligned with our commitment to animal welfare … McDonald’s will communicate our process, programs, plans and progress surrounding animal welfare.”
  • McDonald’s stated in last year’s proxy: “The Guiding Principles express our commitment to the raising, transportation and slaughter of animals in a manner that is free of cruelty, abuse and neglect. The Guiding Principles are applicable to all suppliers (i.e., all suppliers from which the Company purchases product) on a worldwide basis … the Company, together with its outside experts, works with its suppliers to develop systems to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the suppliers’ animal handling practices. … We operate in 121 countries, and it is a tremendous task to monitor every supplier in every country immediately. We are making progress … we already report to shareholders about our animal welfare program on our website at”
  • Our company states that “different markets may develop additional standards and compliance systems [for animal welfare] appropriate to the legal framework, supply chains, and culture of the area.”


  • Despite exemplary practices in the U.S. and U.K., more than one-half of our company’s 29,000 restaurants operate elsewhere. Some standards implemented in the U.K. apply exclusively in that country (e.g., battery cage and gestation crate bans).’s “Animal Welfare Progress Highlights (1999-2002)” discusses many policies that apply only in the U.S., without mentioning that they are only in the U.S.
  • Our chief competitors, Burger King and Wendy’s, have adopted standards similar to our U.S. standards and apply them internationally.
  • Our company has not made known any global program. makes no reference to improved conditions in the raising of any animals (other than laying hens), transportation of any animals, use of experts, any programs or evaluation methods, “performance objectives,” or any “process, programs, plans, or progress” outside the U.S.

McDonald’s Community Affairs Director Bob Langert has stated, “No longer are extremists driving the debate. Mainstream consumers are the primary force.” We believe that our company risks harm to its reputation and image if it buys from suppliers engaged in animal abuse while it continues to assert its adherence to a program that it has not implemented. We urge our company to continue to protect and enhance its good reputation and business by ensuring that its public statements are accurate and that its suppliers worldwide meet the highest standards for the humane treatment of farmed animals by adopting the proposed resolution.

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