Farm-to-table restaurants, the local co-op, and your neighborhood farmers market tend to be the first places that come to mind when discussing ethical food practices. The last thing place consumers tend look to for food conscience establishments is fast-food chains. That however is about to change for one particular establishment. McDonald's,the mother of all fast-food chains, announced that by 2024, they will only be serving humanely raised and slaughtered chickens.
McDonald's is improving the animal welfare of their sourced chickens by setting new guidelines when it comes to the rearing and slaughtering of their animals. The new standards will include monitoring how much light the coops receive, ensuring the animals have clean coops, and even gassing during the slaughtering process. In the process called stunning, chickens are gassed so a painless death is carried out, offering more humane slaughterhouse practices.
The new standards will require McDonald's chicken suppliers such as Tyson Foods Inc and Cargill Inc, some of the largest food companies in the U.S., to follow suit by the deadline of 2024. As McDonald's is the second largest chicken meat buyer - KFC is unsurprisingly the first - these companies are on board with the new regulations.
As McDonald's announced in 2015 that they would only serve cage-free eggs in the United States and Canada, and would stop serving chickens pumped with antibiotics, this step seems as a natural progression. McDonald's Senior Director Bruce Feinberg wrote in a statement,
"Today's announcement involves an 8-step program, focused on the health and welfare of chickens, including outcome-based measures providing us a holistic picture of the lives of those animals in our supply chain and the ability to have informed conversations with producers about where improvements might be required.
Together, we believe these new commitments provide the ability to drive and measure continuous improvement for the health and welfare of chickens."
If you're wondering what this means for food prices, the transition won't have any effect on the menu - in monetary terms. As the new standards are set in place, prices are to remain the same. Although this means an increase in McDonald's food production prices, the decision to become more humane allows consumers to make purchasing decisions they otherwise may not be able to afford to make.
Some animal activists, however, feel it's not enough. Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for The Humane Society of the United States Josh Balk said in a Fox News statement,
"McDonald's falls behind dozens of major food companies on this issue including many of its competitors, a disappointing position for the company that formerly was a leader on animal treatment."
It is believed that the new regulations don't address the issue of chickens growing too quickly, leading to a slew of health problems and a decline in the well-being of the chickens. This puts them below the mark when compared to other fast-food chains like Burger King.
While the 8-Step program may not have all activists on board, a change in regulations will hopefully see their own improvements in the process.