McDonald’s Board Opposes Cage-Free Eggs for U.S.

April 13, 2010, 3:49 pm  |  By LEORA BROYDO VESTEL

The board of directors of McDonald’s has recommended that the company’s shareholders vote against a proposal to require that 5 percent of the eggs purchased for the chain’s restaurants in the United States be the cage-free variety.

Eggs are washed, rinsed and coated in a thin layer of oil to protect their porous shells before they are dried and packaged at a cage-free supplier in Indiana.

The proposal was advanced by the Humane Society of the United States.

Some major fast food companies, including Burger King, Subway and Wendy’s, and the retailers Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s, have already made some level of commitment to purchasing or selling cage-free eggs.

But the McDonald’s board said on Friday that the science was not there to support a switch.“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,” it said in a proxy statement.

McDonald’s says that its egg suppliers can use “battery cages” that afford a minimum of 72 square inches of floor space per hen. The Humane Society counters that this is not enough space to allow a hen to fully spread its wings.

Last year McDonald’s joined the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, which is organizing a commercial-scale study led by Michigan State University and the University of California, Davis, to examine different housing options for egg-laying hens.

To read the entire article by Leora Broydo Vestel in the New York Times, click here.