McDonald’s might be famous for their hamburgers, specifically the BigMac, but they have recently been making waves in the poultry industry.
The fast-food chain announced Friday, Oct. 27, that they will only accept chickens that have been humanely processed. Humanely processed chickens, as defined by McDonald’s, are birds that were not fully conscious when they were slaughtered. This means that McDonald’s suppliers using common processing methods like shocking the birds and shackling their feet on a conveyer belt before slaughter will need to find alternative techniques, such as gassing the birds.
The fast-food giant also will begin requiring chickens to be provided with perches, brighter enclosures and adequate space to participate in more natural behaviors. These changes will be mandatory for 70 percent of McDonald’s poultry suppliers by 2024.
This movement for the birds will no doubt raise the cost to produce such chickens, but McDonald’s is adamant that these price increases will not reflect on their consumers. Senior director for McDonald’s, Bruce Feinberg, said that the company wants to increase their standards to open up their products to customers who are concerned for the animals’ welfare, even if it does not improve sales.
Poultry industry giants Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. are supportive of McDonald’s commitment and plan to comply with the new regulations. However, animal rights organizations are not satisfied, mostly because of the length of the timeline before the changes are implemented. Still, McDonald’s sells millions of chicken nuggets a year and that kind of influence may be a big step in the direction of animal welfare for the poultry industry.