Good news is a relative concept when you're a battery hen—suffice it to say it isn’t exactly plentiful. McDonald’s wouldn't seem the most likely place to find it, but earlier this month the fast-food conglomerate took a stand for factory-farmed fowl everywhere. Along with Target, McDonald’s stopped buying eggs from Sparboe Farms, one of the nation's largest egg suppliers, after the animal rights group Mercy for Animals released a video showing rampant animal abuse at five of Sparboe’s facilities in three states. (Warning: The video shows disturbing images.)
Sparboe produces 300 million eggs per year. According to the Associated Press, its Iowa facility was the only fresh egg supplier to every McDonald’s west of the Mississippi. The Mercy for Animals video shows (among other things) hens packed into cages and workers swinging chickens by their feet and cutting off the tips of their beaks. Although Sparboe’s president claimed she was “shocked” by the abuses, McDonald’s apparently wasn’t buying it. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors reportedly found that several of the egg supplier’s facilities were “contaminated with filth” and conducive to salmonella.
It remains to be seen if the move by Target and McDonald’s will influence the way other companies do business. If other corporations are moved to consider the chicken, then perhaps the lives of battery birds everywhere won’t be quite so foul.