Group protests McDonald’s use of caged chicken eggs

A Taiwanese nonprofit group advocating for environmental and animal rights demonstrated in Taipei yesterday to urge fast-food giant McDonald’s to stop using eggs from battery-farmed chickens.

Representatives from the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) dressed in chicken costumes and unfurled banners, holding placards in front of a McDonald’s outlet and calling on the fast-food chain to cease buying battery-farmed eggs and help stop the abuse of egg -laying hens.

The signs read: “McDonald’s, stop abusing hens,” with an EAST representative holding a cage with several mock chickens inside.

Photo: CNA

EAST’s campaign coincided with similar protests in South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong during a regional “go cage-free” day.

Battery-farmed chickens are raised with two to five hens per cage, with living space about the size of a sheet of A4 paper, EAST researcher Tsun Fang-chu (寸舫筑) told reporters.

The system is arranged in rows and columns of cages connected as a unit, and has long been criticized as inhumane.

Other chain restaurants such as KFC and Burger King have cage-free egg policies in place, Tsun said, adding that McDonald’s continues to use eggs from battery-farmed chickens throughout Asia, despite having promised to use free-range eggs in other markets such as the US, Canada, Latin America and South Africa.

Animal rights groups in Asia have been lobbying McDonald’s to stop using such eggs for 10 years, but the US-based chain has not provided a satisfactory response, Tsun said.

Despite McDonald’s telling its shareholders this year that it would take advantage of its global influence to improve animal welfare, there was no immediate sign that the chain is stopping the practice in Asia, Tsun said.

“It is almost discriminatory, and certainly a regrettable move from McDonald’s,” she said.

McDonald’s Taiwan said in a statement that the company follows food sanitation regulations in Taiwan and has paid close attention to animal rights, having improved the environment chickens are raised in through the use of water-curtain systems and ensuring the animals are supplied with ample nutrition.

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