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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 21, 2017

McDonald’s sets new welfare standards for chickens

By Tom Polansek, Reuters | Nov 02, 2017

CHICAGO — McDonald’s Corp will require suppliers to follow new standards for raising and slaughtering chickens served in its restaurants, the company said on Friday, the latest changes affecting popular menu items like McNuggets.

Animal activists said the mandates fall short of commitments made by other restaurants, such as Burger King and sandwich chain Subway, and failed to address their primary concern about chicken production: birds bred to grow quickly to large sizes.

Under McDonald’s updated guidelines, suppliers such as Tyson Foods Inc and Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] must comply by 2024 with rules dictating the amount and brightness of light in chicken houses, provide birds with access to perches that promote natural behavior, and take other steps to improve animal welfare.

“I think it’s one of the most comprehensive programs that I’ve seen for chickens,” said livestock researcher Temple Grandin, who pioneered humane slaughterhouse practices and works with McDonald’s.

McDonald’s requirements are the latest changes to affect its menu that address concerns about animal and human health. It previously stopped buying chicken meat for U.S. restaurants from birds raised with antibiotics deemed important to human health and said it would shift to using cage-free eggs in the U.S. and Canada.

Such moves generally raise costs for producers.

McDonald’s, which has been working to boost flagging traffic at its U.S. restaurants, said it will not raise menu prices as a result of its new standards.

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