Bigger gets better
McDonald’s restaurants in the UK switched to using free range eggs in 1998 and now their entire menu uses only free range eggs – from sauces and muffins to the coating on chicken nuggets.
When you are as big in the restaurant business as McDonald’s, commitment to higher animal welfare can mean better lives for literally millions of animals – that’s a big difference!
McDonald’s uses over 90 million UK-sourced eggs a year across its breakfast menu alone, sourced from hundreds of farms, many of which are small, RSPCA Freedom Food monitored family-run businesses.
Improving animal welfare, caring for the environment and promoting the importance of biodiversity are recognised as being vitally important for a sustainable supply chain. “The challenge”, says the giant company’s agriculture assurance manager, Joy Clachan, “is finding practical solutions at producer level to deliver improvements in all areas.
“One practical solution is our Range Enrichment Programme for producers. Laying hens originate from the jungle and canopy cover is vital to them for protection from predators and inclement weather conditions. Range enrichment specified that trees should be planted on a minimum of 5% of the ranging area in order to provide the birds with this canopy cover. Working with partner producers, McDonald’s is behind research study to determine the welfare benefits from planting trees on ranges – and the results from the first two years of data collection are due to be published in a science journal.”
Robert and David Rees - free range egg producers from Stafford - supply eggs into McDonald’s Restaurants via Noble Foods.
Following the closure of their dairy unit Robert and David decided to diversify into free range eggs to make use of the permanent pasture that had once supplied grazing for the dairy cattle. Their first laying house was built and stocked with birds in the summer of 2005.
The range area consisted of several small fields bordered by mature hawthorn hedgerows and it was noted how the ranging hens were continually drawn to the hedges which offered shade and shelter from the elements. When asked to plant trees on the range to provide even more natural canopy cover the Rees’s were only too happy to help and over 2,000 trees – mainly native species - were planted in February 2007.
The trees, having grown at an exceptional rate, now provide an enriched ranging environment for the hens; contribute to an increase in biodiversity and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
After recognising both the benefits to the birds and the environment, Robert and David naturally planted trees on the range of their second laying house built in February 2009.
Make up your own mind
McDonald’s also promotes openness and transparency through ‘Quality Scouts’ – independent recruits who take a look behind-the-scenes at their food sourcing, production and processing. The ‘Make up your own mind’ initiative also invites questions from the public and feeds back answers and information – much of which is about animal welfare.
Find out more at www.makeupyourownmind.co.uk