McDonald's drops egg supplier over cruelty charges

By Steve Karnowski

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 18 2011 10:10 p.m. MST

Mercy for Animals isn't satisfied with McDonald's decision to stop accepting eggs from Sparboe, said Matt Rice, the group's director of operations.

"These are company-wide, policy-level abuses," Rice said. "There's a culture of cruelty and neglect at McDonald and its suppliers."

McDonald's said it is participating in a three-year study that compares traditional versus cage-free hen housing systems, but Rice said the company continues to get most of its eggs from hens in battery cages that hold a lot of birds in cramped conditions.

"McDonald's is simply sidestepping the issue now. It's time McDonald's requires all of its suppliers to un-cage hens and finally give these animals the basic freedom to spread their wings, to walk and engage in other natural behaviors," he said, noting that McDonald's has already switched to cage-free eggs in Europe.

Mercy for Animals conducted its investigation from May 23 to Aug. 1, Rice said. The group got its people hired at the farms and sent them in wired with hidden cameras, he said. They "documented daily abuses that would shock and horrify most Americans yet are largely considered standard and acceptable to the egg industry," he added.

Orwig, the Sparboe spokesman, said the undercover taping was troubling because company employees sign a code of conduct that they will report any abuses immediately to a supervisor. In this case, he said, there were no reports.

The video was first aired Friday on ABC's Good Morning America.

Online:

Mercy for Animals video site: http://www.mcdonaldscruelty.com

Sparboe Farms response site: http://www.sparboeupdate.com

FDA letter: http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm280413.htm

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