OAK BROOK, ILL. – McDonald's Corp. is launching a new Chicken Sustainability Advisory Council, composed of a mix of key suppliers and genetics experts, advisers, leading academics and researchers including Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Harry Blokhuis, FAI Farms and the World Wildlife Fund. This multi-stakeholder group will advise McDonald’s on the implementation and evolution of its chicken welfare and sustainability strategy.

“Launching the Chicken Sustainability Advisory Council to engage with a diverse community of experts in partnership with our trusted suppliers is a significant milestone in McDonald’s journey," said Nicola Robinson, veterinary surgeon and senior manager for global sustainability at McDonald's Corp. "As the world seeks to reconcile food production with the environmental limits of a finite planet, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that production systems meet the welfare needs of food animal species, whilst protecting the ecological systems that sustain us all. I’m very proud of our work and am grateful for the opportunity to continue to advance the issues that I, my colleagues and our supplier partners, care so deeply about. It’s all part of building a better McDonald’s.”

McDonald's new council may be a response to animal activist groups that recently penned a letter to the fast-food giant about its sourcing practices and published it as a full-page ad in the New York Times. The ad, purchased by Mercy for Animals, Animal Equality, Compassion in World Farming, Compassion Over Killing, The Humane League and World Animal Protection, calls for McDonald's to source its chicken from suppliers who follow specific breeding practices.

Letter to McDonaldsThe ad reads: “You have tremendous power over the lives of animals ... especially chickens.

"The numbers are staggering: hundreds of millions of chickens are bred and raised each year for McDonald's nuggets and sandwiches alone. As some of the largest animal protection charities in the country, we strongly urge you to address serious concerns about how chickens in your supply chain are treated ...

"Nearly 90 other food companies, including Burger King, Subway, Jack in the Box Inc., Dunkin' Donuts and Sonic have established specific and meaningful reforms for their suppliers – reforms that address these concerns. It's time for McDonald's to do the right thing."

The groups are asking McDonald’s to:

  • Implement higher, science-based animal welfare standards for its chicken supply chain by switching to healthier breeds of birds;
  • Use suppliers who provide more room for chickens to move;
  • Use suppliers who monitor air and litter quality; and
  • Provide environmental enrichment.

“As long as McDonald’s allows its suppliers to breed birds to grow so large and fast they can’t even walk without pain and overcrowd them inside dark warehouses, the company will lag behind its competitors on animal welfare,” said Matt Rice, president of Mercy for Animals. “McDonald’s must acknowledge that extreme animal cruelty has no place in a civilized society. By failing to adopt a meaningful chicken welfare policy, McDonald’s is out of step with consumer expectations and business trends.”