McDonald’s investors reject animal welfare improvements

Baby pink and black pig looks in camera, animal news
Baby pig, photo: Alexas Ph Fotos via Canva

McDonald’s shareholders overwhelmingly rejected the efforts of billionaire investor Carl Icahn to improve the welfare of pigs at the fast-food company. Icahn had nominated two board members who would focus on animal welfare, but the company rejected them on Thursday.

Icahn, who owns around $50,000 worth of McDonald’s stock, wanted the company to stop buying pork from pig farmers who keep their animals in gestation crates.

In intensive pig farming, female animals are kept in tight gestation or farrowing crates their whole lives, constantly artificially impregnated, and their babies are taken away at just a few weeks old. By keeping the pigs confined in these small crates, industrial farmers can crowd thousands of animals inside a single shed.

“I really do feel emotional about these animals and the unnecessary suffering,” Icahn said in February about the treatment of pigs by McDonald’s. Ten years ago, McDonald’s promised to stop buying pork from farmers who keep their animals in tiny crates by 2022.

“McDonald’s inability to fulfill its 10-year-old promise indicates cracks in the board’s highly touted ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance] efforts,” Icahn said.

McDonald’s said earlier that it would be too expensive for them to end pig suffering by 2022 and that if they were forced to do that, they would charge the extra costs to their customers.

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