One year ago, McDonald’s Australia, one of the biggest names in the quick service restaurant game, made their move in the animal welfare space and announced they are sourcing 100% RSPCA Approved chicken across their menus.
As a company that purchases over 17 million kilograms of chicken per year, sourcing from farms that meet the RSPCA’s detailed animal welfare Standard, has a big impact on the lives of millions of chickens. Birds raised on farms with RSPCA Approved certification are provided with enriched environments. This includes perches to keep them active and promote improved bone and muscle health; quality litter to forage, scratch, and dust bathe; and proper light and dark periods for activity and rest. These farms are assessed 2-4 times per year by specially trained RSPCA Assessors to make sure that the Standards are being met.
One year on, we caught up with Kylie Freeland, the Director of Supply Chain and Sustainability at McDonald’s Australia, to reflect on their journey to sourcing 100% RSPCA Approved chicken.
What led McDonald’s to make the move to sourcing 100% RSPCA Approved chicken and why do you think it was an important move to make?
McDonald’s is committed to higher animal welfare practices and making thoughtfully sourced food more accessible to Australian consumers.
More than ever, our customers want to know how their food is produced and where it comes from.
We want to use our scale and reach to improve animal health and welfare in the McDonald’s supply chain and ensure we source chicken from producers who share our commitments.
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme aims to improve the lives of meat chickens by ensuring they have access to an environment that meets their individual needs and encourages them to express their natural behaviours. By working with the RSPCA, we know our suppliers and farmers are upholding the highest industry standards in animal welfare.
From McDonald’s’ perspective can you tell us a little about what happened behind the scenes once the business decided to source RSPCA Approved chicken?
We have extremely strong relationships with our existing chicken suppliers, Ingham’s, Turosi and Baiada.
As animal welfare is such a focus for them, a number of farms linked to our suppliers have been participating in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme for many years. To make sure we could source 100% RSPCA Approved chicken, we worked with our suppliers’ farms that weren’t already RSPCA Approved to transition them to meet the standards and undergo the RSPCA’s stringent assessment program to become certified. This process involved collaboration between the farms we source from, the RSPCA Certification Body and our team.
We are proud to work with such dedicated suppliers that are supportive of the Scheme and committed to meeting the requirements of the RSPCA’s meat chicken Standard.
One year on, how is the business feeling about it? What impact has it had on your employees and customers?
We know that our customers care about where their food comes from and the welfare of animals.
The RSPCA is well-recognised as a leader in this space, and we’ve had a very positive response from our customers and employees about our move to RSPCA Approved chicken.
There have been numerous occasions where customers have seen the RSPCA Approved logo on our packaging and provided feedback on how great it is to see Macca’s supporting higher animal welfare practices.
We are proud to work with the RSPCA to prioritise the wellbeing of farmed animals, while also supporting initiatives that are important to our customers and people.
What is the one thing that you’d like your customers to know about McDonald’s and what you’re doing to improve farm animal welfare in Australia?
McDonald’s has supported the Aussie agriculture industry for 50 years and is proud to purchase locally sourced ingredients including our 100% RSPCA Approved chicken.
In addition to sourcing 100% RSPCA Approved chicken, McDonald’s also made the transition to cage-free eggs in 2017.
We know there is always more to be done, which is why we will continue to work with suppliers who are committed to the ongoing improvement of animal welfare in supply chains.
Thoughts from RSPCA Approved
Manager – RSPCA Approved, Talulah Gaunt applauded McDonald’s Australia for working with their suppliers to transition to 100% RSPCA Approved chicken. “For meat chickens to have a better quality of life, they need an environment that meets their physical needs and encourages them to express their natural behaviours,” said Talulah.
“By sourcing from farms that are certified RSPCA Approved, McDonald’s Australia is showing a strong commitment to farm animal welfare and supporting farmers that are raising the bar for Australia’s farmed animals.”
“With over 660 million meat chickens farmed in Australia each year, big names like McDonald’s making changes like this, have real tangible impact for many millions of farm animals today. If we didn’t work with key players like this, we would not see the same level of change across farming industries.” Said Talulah.
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