McDonald’s Announces Commitments to Advancements in Chicken Welfare

October 27, 2017

We're on a journey to build a better McDonald’s, and we have a global vision to source our food and packaging sustainably. Since our beginning, McDonald’s has evolved with our customers’ tastes and society’s changing needs. From what’s on our menu, to the ingredients in our food, and to how our food is sourced – innovation, active listening, and customer service are all at the core of who we are and what we stand for.
For more than a decade, McDonald’s has worked with our suppliers, NGOs, academics, and industry experts to advance the sustainability of the chicken served at McDonald’s restaurants.

Today, we are elevating our global commitment to source chickens raised with improved welfare outcomes. We’re proud to share the following eight commitments in markets across the globe,[1] which impact more than 70 percent of our global chicken supply and will be fully implemented on or before 2024. Together, we believe these commitments provide the ability to drive and measure continuous improvement for the health and welfare of chickens.

  1. Improved Farm-Level Welfare Outcomes: Source chickens for the McDonald’s System that are raised with improved welfare outcomes. We plan to set targets, measure performance and report on key farm-level welfare outcomes across our largest markets.
  2. Innovative On-Farm Animal Health and Welfare Monitoring Technologies: Partner with technology companies, producers, and suppliers to develop on-farm monitoring systems to automate the gathering of key animal health and welfare indicators, including behavioral measures. Once established, these technologies will highlight potential areas for improvement in real time and will be among the first of their kind available at a commercial scale.
  3. Natural Behavior: Require chickens to be raised in housing environments that promote natural behaviors such as pecking, perching and dust-bathing. These behaviors are encouraged through enrichments, such as the provision of perches and pecking objects, access to floor litter 100 percent of the time, and providing a minimum of 20 lux light intensity during photoperiods, with a minimum of 6 hours of darkness (4 hours to be continuous) during a 24 hour time period, reflecting scientific evidence from poultry experts.
  4. Commercial Trials on Production Inputs: Conduct commercial trials across select markets in partnership with our largest global chicken suppliers to study the effect that various production parameters have on key welfare outcomes within large-scale, commercial conditions.  These trials will measure the effects of inputs such as lighting, stocking density (space allowance), and genetics. This will enable us to identify best practices that support improved farm welfare outcomes in specific climates across the globe.
  5. Stunning: In the U.S. and Canada, transition to sourcing chickens that have been stunned by the use of Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (CAS), a method that is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). CAS is currently practiced by many approved suppliers for McDonald’s restaurants in Europe and Australia.
  6. Accountability: Establish third party audits to ensure supplier’s farms are in compliance with McDonald’s new and more comprehensive chicken welfare standards.
  7. Feasibility Study: Complete an assessment by the end of 2018 to measure the feasibility of extending these commitments to the remaining global markets where McDonald’s operates.
  8. McDonald’s Advisory Council for Chicken Sustainability: Establish a global, multi-stakeholder Advisory Council focused on chicken sustainability, with participation from academics and scientists, suppliers and industry experts, animal welfare and environmental advocates to support our continued journey on chicken sustainability, inclusive of health and welfare.

As one of the world’s largest food companies, we aim to use our scale as an opportunity to achieve impactful change on key societal issues, and we will continue to collaborate with our suppliers, franchisees and employees to achieve real impact.

[1] These commitments apply to chicken raised for sale at McDonald’s restaurants in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and US.