November 6, 2003



Fast-Food Giants McDonald & Burger King Demand Improvements In Animal Welfare


Both McDonald's and Burger King have become leaders in animal welfare, demanding improvements for the hens that lay the fast food eggs and new standards for cattle and hogs destined to become sandwiches.

They demanded that hens raised in crowded cages must now have room to flap their wings. And at the slaughterhouse, chickens can't be thrown around like trash.

"In our minds it's a big movement," says Bob Langert, Director of Social Responsibility for McDonald's.

Langert says the company is simply responding to consumer demand.

"It's a part of doing business. It's not a fad. It's not just a nice thing to do. It's not a left field idea. It's mainstream," says Langert.

Animal rights activists argue their protests created this new humane farming movement, but whatever started it, big business gets it.

Paul Sauder, one of the largest egg farmers in America was one of the first to give hens more room. He used to cram nine hens into every cage, whereas for now he only allowed seven.

But is it humane to keep birds in one cage?

"Scientists tell us it is," says Sauder. "They are producing more eggs than they did before. If a bird is treated better, it's going to be more productive."

But for all of the momentum behind the humane movement, right now, for the vast majority of farm animals in America, very little has changed.

So the food industry understands the rules are changing on the farm. That the public now judges food not just on taste and price, but in addition, the treatment and care of the animals are also factors they are likely to look out for.

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