I’ll have an Egg McMuffin, but hold the egg.
In a responsible move, McDonald’s and Target have dropped a large egg supplier from their supply chains after an undercover video revealed animal cruelty on their farms.
The video, shot by the animal rights group Mercy For Animals, shows significant signs of animal cruelty at five of Sparboe Farms facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado. Soon after the release of the video, McDonald’s announced their removal of the company from their supply chain, and Target came in soon after with the same decision.
Sparboe, one of the largest egg suppliers in the United States, produces about 300 million eggs a year in regular, frozen, liquid and dried form to ship to stores across the country. Their plant in Vincent, Iowa was apparently the sole egg supplier to every McDonald’s west of the Mississippi River. McDonald’s now says they are unclear as to when, if ever, they will work with Sparboe again.
The revealing and disturbing video (animal cruelty warning) released by Mercy For Animals showed one worker swinging a chicken around by its feet, male baby chickens being tossed into plastic bags to suffocate, workers cutting off the tips of chicks’ beaks, hens packed into cramped cages, and dead and rotting chicken left in cages.
Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president for sustainability, released a statement on the Sparboe controversy.
“The behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable. McDonald’s wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers.”
These decisions by Target and McDonald’s followed a warning to Sparboe Farms from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that accused the company of “serious violations” at five of their facilities. According to the warning, eggs had been “prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”
Oh, but don’t worry. There’s no cause for concern other than heart disease if you’ve been noshing on a daily Egg McMuffin. McDonald’s says their eggs are cooked thoroughly, so none of their products would be affected by the irresponsible moves of Sparboe.
Sparboe is also taking preventative measures, or so they say, to make sure this behavior doesn’t happen in their facilities anymore. Owner Beth Sparboe Schnell says the company was “shocked and deeply disturbed” to see the footage, noting that the two employees seen inappropriately manhandling chickens were fired immediately. She also says they’ve taken measures to comply with FDA reports, and that there is “absolutely no food safety concern or any recall of any Sparboe Farms products. Sparboe Farms egg and egg products are safe to eat.”
Does a story like this impact whether or not you consume foods at these companies?
Image: snapshot from the Mercy For Animals video