Today, McDonald’s made an announcement which outlines further actions we plan to take to help end the use of gestation stalls for sows (mothers of baby pigs) in the U.S.
This action builds upon our long track record of leadership in overall sustainability efforts.
Gestation stalls are currently the predominant housing system used in the U.S. sow industry. When we look at their use through a broad sustainability lens, there are a number pros and cons to consider. Of course, the aspect that most people would think of first relates to animal welfare. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you really have to evaluate all social and environmental impacts. This is why we work with outside experts like our Animal Welfare Team.
When we first started working with this set of preeminent experts in the early 2000s, we sought their input on what future steps we should take on this issue. Simply put, they advised us that gestation stalls are too confining and restrictive, and they encouraged us to work with our suppliers to support and promote alternatives to their use.
Since then, we have been collaborating with some of our key suppliers to act upon this advice, and progress has been made, especially with Smithfield Foods and Cargill. However, more needs to be done. Hence, the announcement we are making today.
We know this is a significant change that will require substantial effort over an extended period of time. Our own Animal Welfare Council member, Dr. Temple Grandin, has noted the need for a well thought-out and thorough plan to successfully undertake a transition of this magnitude. Our suppliers will need to consider a number of factors, including the training of animal handlers, proper feeding systems and a number of other logistical issues.
In addition to our Animal Welfare Council, we’ll also continue to engage with other stakeholders who share our commitment to animal welfare. This enables us to see all sides of the issue, from multiple perspectives. For example, we’ve been in dialogue with the Humane Society of the United States frequently over the past several years, and they have voiced their support of today’s announcement.
That said, we are fully committed to ending gestation stall use in our U.S. pork supply, and we will work closely with our suppliers to determine what a feasible action plan will entail.
On a personal note, McDonald’s menu items like the Egg McMuffin and Sausage Biscuit are some of my personal favorites. Knowing they come from responsible and sustainable production systems is a vital “ingredient.”
At McDonald’s, ensuring the humane treatment of animals in our supply chain is a key priority. We’re committed to continuously improving animal welfare practices in our supply chain and working together with our suppliers who do so much to provide safe, quality, affordable, and responsibly-sourced food.