Keeping in Step With Chipotle, McDonald’s Says it Cares Too

Possibly taking a page out of Chipotle’s playbook, McDonalds has decided to ramp up its corporate responsibility efforts in regards to the humane treatment of animals within its supply chain.

On Feb. 13, McDonald’s announced that it would require its U.S. pork suppliers to outline their plans to phase out the use of small, immobilizing “gestation stalls” for pregnant pigs. “McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future,” said Dan Gorsky, senior VP of McDonald’s North American supply chain management, in a statement. “There are alternatives we think are better for the welfare of sows.”

Seventy percent of the pork industry in the U.S. locks up pregnant pigs inside these small crates, according to The Humane Society, which applauded this move by McDonald’s, believing that it would go a long way toward pressuring the pork industry to stop these practices. “This announcement by McDonald’s [on Feb. 13] does more to put the writing on the wall for the pork industry than anything that’s happened previously,” said Paul Shapiro, senior director for farm animal protection at The Humane Society, to the New York Times.

As a leading global food brand, this decision by McDonald’s can bring about significant change in the industry—more so than any regulation, law or government action can, according to Larry Parnell associate professor at GW’s Graduate School of Political Management in Washington, D.C.

“This trend goes back to Nike, and most recently Walmart, who leveraged their status as preferred business partners to drive change in working conditions, pay and responsible business practices,” says Parnell.

It is now a hot topic within the food industry. Chipotle aired an advertisement during the Grammy Awards on Feb. 12 that decried the use of injecting animals with drugs to make them grow abnormally, and processing the meat in factories.

“Smart management teams will take notice and move to get ahead of the curve instead of just reacting when pressured,” says Parnell. “They will be rewarded for doing so in terms of corporate reputation, employee pride and, ultimately, bottom line benefits.”

In making this announcement the day after Chipotle’s ad appeared, McDonald’s has made it known that it too cares.

Follow Sahil Patel: @sizpatel