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2002-Jun-28: "Dear McDonalds Shareholder"

An Open Letter from Sir Paul McCartneyThe top 100 shareholders of McDonald's stock received a letter from Sir Paul requesting that they use their influence to urge the fast-food chain to extend their U.S. animal welfare standards to their 29,000 other restaurants around the world.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released the letter to the public yesterday.  It reads:

June 27, 2002

Dear McDonalds Shareholder,

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Trillium Asset Management, and caring consumers across the globe, I am writing to ask for your help in convincing McDonald’s to internationalize its farmed animal welfare standards.

Although McDonald’s has made laudable efforts on behalf of farmed animals in the United States and United Kingdom, it now needs to do the same in other countries. Abuse is abuse, whether it goes on in Sussex or San Salvador, Toronto or Tijuana.

McDonald’s animal welfare “Guiding Principles” state, “we buy all our beef, pork and poultry products from suppliers who maintain the highest standards and share McDonald’s commitment to animal welfare.” Yet McDonald’s has very different standards (and often no standards), country-by-country, for its suppliers.

Allow me to offer just two examples:

• In the United Kingdom, McDonald’s has banned battery cages for hens and gestation crates for mother pigs, using the RSPCA seal of approval and placing advertisements that promote McDonald’s for eliminating this abuse of animals. Yet McDonald’s has not yet pledged to even phase such abusive confinement systems out anywhere else in the world. McDonald’s is supporting this abuse around the globe, and it is abuse McDonald’s acknowledges as such. It is worth recalling that only one-twentieth of McDonald’s Restaurants are in the United Kingdom.

• In the United States, McDonald’s requires audits of all cattle, pig, and chicken slaughterhouses, has chicken handling standards, and bans forced molting (starving hens to shock their bodies into another laying cycle). Yet just one country north of the U.S., in Canada, McDonald’s has not yet phased in cage space requirements for hens, hasn’t banned starving hens to force another laying cycle, and is only auditing cattle slaughter. The company’s Canadian animal welfare statement does not indicate plans to do any more than this at any point in the future.

Not long ago, corporations with excellent track records on labor issues in the United States and United Kingdom refused to address the injustices going on in apartheid South Africa. They learned that the public does not want to support injustice anywhere, and that good practices in one country must be mirrored by good practices everywhere.

If McDonald’s corporate policy, that “humane treatment of animals is an integral part of a world class supplier system,” is to have meaning, then the corporation must adopt international farmed animal welfare standards. I am attaching PETA and Trillium Asset Management’s analysis of McDonald’s statements on global farmed animal welfare. I hope that you will review it and then contact PETA’s director of vegan outreach, Bruce Friedrich, to help us push McDonald’s to follow the lead of Burger King, Wendy’s, and Safeway, by adopting international standards for farmed animal welfare.


Paul McCartney

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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