November 19th, 2011
05:37 PM ET

McDonald's, Target drop egg supplier after animal cruelty report

McDonald's and Target dropped an egg supplier this week after an activist group released disturbing video showing what it says shows animal cruelty at three of the company's barns.

The undercover video, released by Mercy for Animals, was allegedly shot between May and August at facilities run by Sparboe Farms in Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota. It shows hens crammed in crowded cages, workers burning beaks and one, trying to shove a bird inside the pocket of a co-worker, apparently for fun. Another worker presses his thumb against the back of a chick's neck until it breaks.

"Regarding the undercover videos, the behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable. McDonald's wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. We take this responsibility - along with our customers' trust - very seriously. It's important to note that the most alarming actions on video did not occur at Sparboe's Vincent, Iowa, facility that supplies McDonald's. Nonetheless, our extremely high standards for our suppliers prohibit this conduct," McDonald's said in a statement, announcing its decision to cut ties with Sparboe Farms.

Target similarly said it was dropping Sparboe Farms, which describes itself as the fifth-largest shell egg producer and marketer in the United States.

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Filed under: Animals • Colorado • Fast Food • Food • Iowa • Minnesota
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. What a crock of sh!t

    That old expression "hen pecked" comes from chckens raised in the barnyard. The weakest hen always get's pecked by the other hens. Chickens raised by corporate farms keep about 8 hens in each cage...the weakest hen oftentimes get's pecked so much, it has a heart-attack and dies. This sort of reminds me of how some of you old "Hens" who blahg here every single day behave when you get your feathers ruffled by someone. Ya start pecking away just like an old hen.

    November 20, 2011 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Lol...i thought it referred to a weak submissive man who is dominated by opinions and actions of a woman such that he makes no declarations or decisions of his own..,

      November 20, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @mmmmm: yes, dear..

      November 20, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. 123456789

    Speaking of pec kers, the biggest one of all is back!

    November 20, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. 123456789

    Creepy Philip is back. Booooo!

    November 20, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©


    November 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Aggie

    Sparboe says it will fire the individuals shown abusing the birds but keeping hens in the abominable but LEGAL battery cages only invites abuse. Keeping birds and animals in such crowded conditions ought to be illegal.

    When commercially kept animals can breed often as do chickens or pigs there is little incentive to treat them humanely when there are frequently batches of new offspring to use and abuse for profit. This is especially true in large corporate operations which you cannot really call farms.

    And what do you think happens to male baby chicks? – they are tossed alive into barrels where they suffocate or ground up alive into feed or fertilizer. Piglets born sickly are also dispatched as quickly as possible – usually quite brutally – think about that the next time you order pulled pork.

    Not only do these animals and birds suffer daily crammed into these factory farms but when a disaster occurs, such as a storm, a heat wave, or a fire for example – there is no way of getting that many animals out and they die by the hundreds of thousands.

    November 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bambang

      Well, in your case, of course you ARE ferpect, so there's a no brainer right there. That's not abuse, rather it's abuse if you were not recognized as such, since you are darn in and if anyone wants to disagree with me, I might have to abuse them!!!

      March 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |

    Maybe instead of firing the worker, fire the cages and go cage free????
    The biggest abuse seen in this video is the battery cages. McDonald's probably think the public is ignorant – clearly, they will shift now to a new abuser. I called them today and they tried to sell me the story of how much they care about their animals, but when I asked if that means hens will not have their beaks cut and will no longer be imprisoned in cages, the customer service told me that "she can't say that" but "they care about humane treatment to animals". I asked? Ok, but what that does this mean? and she said " I don't know , I can't tell"

    November 20, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jerry

    @ I HATE CRUELTY, Wouldn't you say McDonald's and Targets' chickens have come home to roots.

    November 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat (in a hat)

    @Aggie and hate creulty

    And I bet you eat that chicken all the time too. Where do you think it comes from ?

    November 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jesu

    @Jerry: you mean the chickens have come home to ROOST, right?

    November 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. stealthycat

    I raised chickens .... they'll peck to death (in groups) other chickens, chicks, mice, squirrels, moles and just about anything else they can. They'll eat Styrofoam until they die, they LOVE chicken leftovers. I guess its mean to keep them in cages, but lopping their heads off and eating a McChicken isn't cruel at all?

    November 21, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. HumaneFoodFinder

    I think it is great that McDonald's ended their business relationship with Sparboe, but now the question is: where will they get their eggs? Another factory farm? Not if their consumers demand that they start buying cage-free eggs. While this is not nearly as humane as small farms, it is an important step to show industry that people want the animals and animal products they consume to be treated humanely. See here:

    November 21, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. Wyatt

    This is crazy. If you think this is crazy, watch the movie Earthlings. Viewer discretion advised.
    Watch the video shot by Mercy for Animals at
    Viewer discretion also advised.

    November 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amer

      I'm seriously rgppaling with this myself. Mothering River now, having had an abusive, looking at my own responses plainly. So far, and within reason, it seems important to be able to own the way I am in relationship. That's with my child and everything else. It's about allowing things to be messy and trying to be present in the midst of it all. Making amends is a lovely thing.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ed

    This kind of thing is always taken out of hand. No, It is not right for people to abuse animals of any kind. The farmers will take corrective action against the workers that were doing this garbage. What I don't get, is why their business should stop with McDonalds and with Target. If they take corrective actions, and still lose the business, Then why take the corrective action. There is a need for eggs for so many things, so the eggs will be sold somewhere. I think that if Sparboe gets it together then their contracts should be kept. I want people to know that its not right to harm animals just for fun. I do get that to eat eggs and other food you may have to make a choice farm fresh or " Factory Farm" . My choice is if, I feel that the people and farms where my food comes from are being pro active then that is ok with me.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Onyxnuk

    This is the pot calling the kettle black. Does anybody think that the millions of cows die a serene death? Read Fast Food Nation. Stop eating fast food, it is killing America. There is sugar in the buns and in the french fires. Americans are addicted to sugar and fat. Alice Waters from Chez Panisse says that maybe we won't need medications when we are old if we eat organic now. Shop at Whole Foods. Don't be a drone to Madison Avenue jingles. Plan ahead and avoid the drive-in. How about a tuna sandwich? Quit plastic food cold turkey and you will thank yourself.

    November 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
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