After a video of poultry being maltreated at a farm in Tennessee was released online, prompting major fast food chain company McDonald’s to drop one of its egg suppliers, there has been even more concern in the media regarding animal welfare.
This encouraged McDonald’s to make a decision that will largely affect many egg suppliers from now on – they are only going to use eggs that come from hens that are cage-free. This does not mean that these hens run freely on a farm, but only that they are not cramped in cages, unable to move at all. The cage-free eggs are obviously cheaper than the other ones available on the market.
However, the company decided to put animal welfare first and spend more on premium eggs. Right now, only 10 percent of the hens in the United States can be housed as cage-free. However, the company is hoping their decision will have a big impact on suppliers.
It is estimated that McDonald’s now uses more than 4 percent of the eggs produced all over the country. They use about 2 billion shell and liquid eggs every year, while the farms in the U.S. produce a bit more than 43 billion eggs.
Now that the company has announced that they are planning to sell breakfast products all day long, they are probably going to need more eggs than that, considering that the Egg McMuffin alone contains one egg.
Some believe that the company’s decision will have a big impact on farms all over the U.S. Even if most of them are designed to keep hens in cages, the H5N1 virus has made a lot of victims this spring and this might be the chance for owners to start building new barns that allow birds to run and move on the ground.
Even so, experts say that McDonald’s needs at least ten years to make this big change and have 100 percent eggs come from birds that are not kept in cages.
The decision may be well timed because some states have also enacted new regulation regarding the conditions animals and birds should be kept in. Thus, most of this regulation requires farmers to provide larger accommodation areas for these creatures.
There are also many consumers, restaurants and food companies that have started purchasing not only cage-free eggs, but also grass-fed beef and antibiotic-free chickens.
Consumers are increasingly preoccupied about the food they are eating and there are fewer out there who would not question where the meat or the egg on their plate is coming from. This will most likely have a huge impact on producers, given the high costs that the production of this food involves.
Image Source: usatoday