Billboard on Bangkok Expressway asks fast-food brand to treat animals better
The international NGO Sinergia Animal has launched a billboard advertisement on the façade of a building overlooking Sirat Expressway in Bangkok, Thailand, where almost 200 thousand cars pass through every day. The billboard asks McDonald’s to announce a commitment to stop sourcing eggs from controversial battery cage farms, where animals are crammed together in tiny spaces and can barely move. The practice is considered one of the cruelest in animal farming and over 30 multinational companies have already banned it in their supply chains globally.
The action is part of a consumer awareness initiative launched by Sinergia Animal in 2019 (www.mcthai.org). The NGO explains that, although McDonald’s has a cage-free egg policy in North America, Latin America, New Zealand, and Australia, no similar measure has been adopted for Asia. “It is concerning that a multinational corporation like McDonald’s hasn’t extended such an important commitment for animal welfare to the Asian market,” says Siriyada Chongchuwanich, campaign manager of Sinergia Animal in Thailand.
Battery cages: Animal cruelty and public health concerns
Battery cages are an industrial egg production system that keeps several hens confined in small metal cages. Each hen spends her life in a space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper and cannot walk freely nor open her wings completely. The lack of physical exercise can cause them painful bone diseases and fractures.
Battery cages can also be riskier to public health. The European Food Safety Authority has conducted the world’s largest study on this issue and concluded that cage systems have a higher prevalence of Salmonella compared to cage-free systems. According to the World Health Organization, "non-typhoidal Salmonella spp. are estimated to cause 93.8 million cases of acute gastroenteritis and 155,000 deaths globally each year, approximately 85% of which are estimated to be foodborne".
Due to welfare and public health concerns, conventional battery cages have been banned in several countries and the European Union. Thailand, which has around 60 million hens in the egg industry, has no regulations prohibiting battery cages.
Many fast-food brands are switching
In early September, Yum! Brands, the owner of Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell, one of the biggest fast-food operators globally, has committed to phasing out cages for egg laying hens for their entire supply chain, including Asia. Previously, other fast food giants such as Burger King and Subway also said no to cages in Thailand.
“With one fast-food giant after another saying no to cages, we are hoping that McDonald’s will do the right thing for animals and food safety by following suit,“ comments Chongchuwanich.
The campaign has an online petition that has gathered more than 30,000 supporters from Thailand and other Asian countries. Consumers who want to learn more can visit www.mcthai.org.