Taiwan activists urge McDonald’s to stop using battery farmed eggs

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) A Taiwanese nonprofit advocating for environmental and animal rights protection held a protest in Taipei Saturday to urge global fast-food giant McDonald’s to stop using eggs from battery farmed chickens.

In downtown Taipei, representatives dressed in chicken costumes from the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) unfurled banners and held placards in front of a McDonald’s outlet, calling on the fast-food chain to stop using eggs from battery farmed chickens and stop the abuse of egg-laying hens.

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

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

EAST handed the protest banners to McDonald’s employees and demanded that the fast-food chain release its cage-free egg policy and a schedule for its implementation as soon as possible.

Speaking with reporters, Fang Chu Chune (寸舫筑), an EAST researcher, said caged chickens referred to two-to-five hens housed in a cage, with living space per hen equal to roughly the size of a piece of A4 paper.

Caged chickens are kept under a battery cage system, referring to the arrangement of rows and columns of identical cages connected together, in a unit, as in an artillery battery. Battery cage system egg production has been long criticized as an inhumane practice.

In such a poor living environment, Chune said, chickens’ welfare had been harmed, and there were doubts about the food safety of the eggs they produce given that many enterprises worldwide had pledged not to use battery farmed eggs to achieve a business transformation.

At a time when its competitors such as KFC and Burger King already had cage-free egg policies in place, Chune said that McDonald’s still was using eggs from battery farmed chickens in Asia, despite promising to use free-range eggs in other markets such as the United States, Canada, Latin America, and South Africa.

According to Chune, animal rights groups in Asia have been lobbying McDonald’s for ending the use of cage eggs for 10 years, but the US-based fast-food chain has failed to come up with a satisfactory response.

Chune said that despite McDonald’s telling its shareholders this year that it was willing to take advantage of its global influence to improve animal welfare, there were no immediate signs that the food brand will stop the use of eggs from battery farmed chickens in Asia.

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

She said McDonald’s should provide cage-free eggs to its outlets around Asia as soon as possible.

In response, McDonald’s Taiwan said in a statement that the company had always abided by food sanitation regulations in Taiwan and had devoted itself to food safety while placing an emphasis on food quality and farm management.

McDonald’s said it has paid close attention to animal rights and had improved the environment chickens are raised in through the use of water-curtain systems and ensuring the animals are supplied with ample nutrition.

McDonald’s added it had entrusted SGS institutions certified by the Food and Drug Administration to conduct veterinary drug residue testing based on the local regulations.

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