Animal rights group calls out McDonald’s Canada over alleged cruelty in supply chain

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew

Do you know the history of that Egg McMuffin you ate this morning? Where the egg came from before it was fried up and served to you? According to an animal rights activist group, that egg may have come from chickens that were caged and mistreated, and is calling on McDonald’s to clean up its food supply chain.

Well, the group would really prefer everyone to go vegan, but for now they are exposing the apparent cruelty of Canada’s chicken farm industry. The welfare and treatment of animals on Canadian chicken farms was thrust into the spotlight after the activist group Mercy for Animals Canada released a hidden-camera video of practices inside two such facilities.

The graphic video shows chickens having their heads cracked against walls, mounds of baby chicks being disposed of by being collected and suffocated in plastic bags, and birds in various states of discomfort and distress being ignored or destroyed.

But even the less graphic moments of the video raise questions, specifically the use of battery cages, packed tightly and stopping the animals from turning, moving, flapping their wings or doing generally anything that comes naturally to a creature with a pulse.

[ Related: Group alleges animal cruelty at two Alberta chicken farms ]

"Chickens are intelligent and sensitive animals, yet these hens are crammed in tiny cages for their entire lives, never able to walk, perch, stretch their wings or do nearly anything that comes naturally to them," Mercy for Animals Canada said in a statement.

Sound familiar? Perhaps it will. Mercy for Animals Canada captured similar behind-the-scenes footage from a Manitoba pork farm last year, which led to debate and changes to the hog farming industry.

This time, the group followed the egg supply chain from two Alberta chicken farms, Ku-Ku Farms and Creekside Grove Farms, to Burnbrae Farms, the primary egg supplier for McDonald's Canada.

Yahoo Canada News has requested comment from McDonald's Canada. A spokesperson previously told the Canadian Press the company did not condone animal cruelty and that "abuse in never tolerated in our supply chain."

Mercy for Animals is calling on McDonald's Canada to help prevent cruelty to chickens by banning farms that use battery cages. And perhaps McDonald's Canada will take that step, but it wouldn't be the end of the practice.

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A cheap egg means such farmers will always find a market. They may not be used for McMuffins anymore, but there are plenty of nationwide restaurant chains that will fill that void.

If change is actually going to happen, it will have to be from above. Battery cages have already been rejected by the European Union, Switzerland, and New Zealand, as well as Michigan and California. What is stopping Canada from banning the inhumane practice?

The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals estimates that 98 per cent of Canada's 26 million egg-laying hens are kept in battery cages. And there are several campaigns out there to get the government involved.

The Vancouver Humane Society, for example, wants customers to demand cage-free options, forcing the government and industry to move toward regulation. It is currently asking the Canadian government to require egg farms to use "eggs from caged hens" labels on such products, to make consumers aware of the history of their food.

It seems that now, more than ever, people are considering the history of their food. An ethical egg is a delicious egg, even if it costs a little extra.

Want to know what news is brewing in Canada?
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