- Carl Icahn criticizes McDonald’s for the continued use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs.
- The billionaire investor has been campaigning on the subject for years.
- Icahn wrote that McDonald’s executives “congratulate each other, while tolerating cruelty”.
Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has written a letter to McDonald’s shareholders slamming the fast-food giant for ‘challenging its credibility’ by failing to ‘eliminate the use of cruel gestation cages in its chain supply”.
His eight-page open letter, published on Thursday, lambastes McDonald’s, saying the company has failed to live up to its commitment to end the controversial practice of confining pregnant sluts to cramped spaces. McDonald’s first agreed in 2012 to phase out gestation crates, which have been widely criticized as inhumane devices, during a 10 year period.
In February, Icahn threatened to launch a shareholder battle over the issue. By release Thursday’s proxy letter and statementin which he named new board members, Icahn delivered on that promise.
“They praise each other, while tolerating cruelty – seemingly blind to the handwriting on the wall,” Icahn wrote. “I believe the obscene cruelty inflicted on these animals through lockdown is utterly unnecessary, reprehensible, and out of step with what Americans expect from our nation’s #1 fast food chain.”
In addition to McDonald’s, Icahn also scoured “a slew of Wall Street corporations and their bankers and lawyers,” “Big Meat” and the meat industry’s “connected lobby” on the coals, saying that they espouse “hollow” environmental, social and social principles. governance programs.
The investor wrote that McDonald’s is “misleading customers, employees and shareholders” by claiming that the company expects to “source 85% to 90%” of its American pork “from sows not housed in gestation crates during pregnancy”.
“But this claim is a cynical fabrication intended to trick us into believing that this egregious form of animal abuse in McDonald’s supply chain is largely not happening,” Icahn wrote. “In reality, these sows, which have multiple litters of piglets each year, are confined to gestation crates during each gestation for about four to six weeks, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The billionaire wrote that he was calling on McDonald’s to stop acting in an “irresponsible and reprehensible manner” and to “commit to eliminating gestation crates (zero days in stalls) from its supply chain by end of 2023” and to extend this goal to its “global supply chain by 2024.” He also demanded that the company add new directors to its board.
McDonald’s did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
While the pig industry has championed gestation crates as a necessary measure to increase productivity and prevent pigs from fighting, animal welfare campaigners have disagreed. In a 2013 reportthe Humane Society of the United States said such crates have a “psychological impact and are detrimental” to the welfare of pigs.
In his last letter, Icahn wrote that the crates also hamper animals’ “incredible maternal instincts” and their ability to “bond with their babies.” He first became aware of the problem through his daughter Michelle, a vegetarian who worked with the Humane Society.
This is not the first time that McDonald’s has been criticized on animal welfare grounds. In 2015, McDonald’s had to abandon a supplier in Tennessee where workers were caught stomping on chickens. The company also cut ties with a California slaughterhouse under investigation for animal cruelty in 2012, according to the New York Post.
“This grotesque animal abuse – and the company’s failure to make meaningful progress on promises made to multiple stakeholders in 2012 – clearly stems from dysfunction and indifference in the McDonald’s boardroom,” wrote Icahn Thursday. “I believe McDonald’s customers want food that is ethically, responsibly and humanely sourced. Gestation crates are not one of them.”