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Celebrities take McDonald's to task over egg practices

By By Zoe Galland

Chicago Tribune (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 20 2011 4:50 p.m. MST

CHICAGO _ Nearly a month after fast food giant McDonald's dropped an egg supplier over reports of animal cruelty, a number of celebrities are pushing the company to adopt stricter animal welfare policies.

In a letter to Jim Skinner, CEO of Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's, actors including Ryan Gosling, Zooey Deschanel, Steve-O and Alicia Silverstone ask for standards similar to the ones they claim McDonald's has in Europe.

"While McDonald's has already established a 100 percent cage-free purchasing policy in Europe, your U.S. restaurants continue to support egg factory farms that confine hens for most of their lives in cages so small they can't even spread their wings," the celebrities write.

"As you should know, battery cages are considered so cruel that leading animal welfare experts condemn them, and the entire European Union, as well as California and Michigan, have banned their use. ... It's time for McDonald's to stop clowning around and help put an end to some of the most abusive factory farming practices."

McDonald's announced in November that it was dropping Sparboe Farms, the egg supplier, after ABC News and Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal welfare, released a video of alleged abuses towards hens at Sparboe locations in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado.

The video, first shown on "Good Morning America," showed hens packed into industrial cages too small for them to spread their wings. It also shows dead fowl left to rot in cages with egg-laying hens, chicks' beaks being burned off and chicks being crushed in workers' hands.

In a statement Tuesday, McDonald's said Skinner had not yet received the celebrities' letter.

"McDonald's cares about how our food is sourced and we have a long history of action and commitment to improve the welfare of animals in our supply chain around the world," the company said. "In the United States, we are a founding member of the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) and are participating in an unprecedented three-year study that compares traditional, cage-free and enriched laying hen housing systems on a commercial scale."

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