McDonald's Was Just Accused Of Continued Animal Cruelty

"That's a situation that is just horrible," the billionaire investor Carl Icahn told Bloomberg. "It's obscene. You got these companies making all this money and the animals are just suffering for no reason." The situation in question, according to Icahn, is that McDonald's has been sourcing pork from suppliers who use sow gestation crates.

Civil Eats explains that farmers defend the use of gestation crates because they "keep pregnant sows healthier and safer." However, as Icahn made abundantly clear, others see these crates in very different terms. These crates are criticized for being too small for the pigs to move or lie down, with crate-free pig farmer Tim Brandt telling Civil Eats he noticed a significant increase in stress (and decrease in births) in the pigs when he temporarily used them. 

These criticisms led to McDonald's committing to phasing out the uses of gestation crates. In 2012, Reuters reported the burger chain promised to not buying pork from suppliers that use gestation crates by the year 2022. Well time is officially up, and (according to Icahn) that deadline has not been met.

It is worth noting that Icahn only owns 100 shares in McDonald's, but he declared plans to push for a new slate of directors on the board if McDonald's does not make a change. "You gotta live up to your promise, and you got to do this," the billionaire stated.

This is the second charge this month

What's particularly striking about the story is that it occurs ten days after another group has called on McDonald's for failing to keep a different promise related to its meat supply.

On February 8, U.S. PIRG, a federation of public interest and research groups, called on the burger chain to crack down on the use of antibiotics in its beef supply chain. This is a measure McDonald's promised in 2018 to complete by 2020, as reported by Reuters. The issue with the excessive use of antibiotics in the beef supply chain is that it can allow bacteria to evolve means to slip through human medication. U.S. PIRG pointed to a report that found 1.2 million people died from diseases that had developed an immunity to antibiotics.

Obviously, the two accusations are not inextricably linked, as one is tied to concerns over animal cruelty and the other human health, but the closeness in timing and the implied suggestion in both that the chain is "all talk" does paint McDonald's in a bad light.