Carl Icahn, the billionaire activist investor, has made good on his threats against McDonald’s if the company would not change its ways when it comes to buying meats, specifically pork. Icahn has fired his first shot across McDonald’s bow in a proxy fight, making his first two nominations for new directors to its board.
The chairman of Icahn Enterprises L.P. is an animal rights supporter. He wants McDonald’s to treat pigs better and to do away with its use of gestation crates. A gestation crate, also known as a sow stall, is a metal enclosure in which a farmed sow (pig) used for breeding may be kept during pregnancy. The crates are meant to keep the animals from harming one another during their pregnancies. But Carl Icahn has cited studies which show that they can cause physical and psychological suffering to the animals, including lameness due to weaker bones and muscles, abrasion injuries, cardiovascular problems, digestive problems, and urinary tract problems.
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McDonald’s confirmed that Carl Icahn nominated Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler to stand for election at its 2022 Annual Meeting. “Mr. Icahn’s stated focus in making this nomination relates to a narrow issue regarding the Company’s pork commitment, which The Humane Society U.S. has already introduced through a shareholder proposal. This is an issue on which McDonald’s has been a leader,” said McDonald’s about the claims of animal cruelty.
McDonald’s said that it only sources only approximately 1% of U.S. pork production and does not own any sows, or produce or package pork in the United States. By the end of 2022, the Company expects to source 85% to 90% of its U.S. pork volumes from sows not housed in gestation crates during pregnancy. It criticized Carl Icahn’s demands for new commitments, including to require all of McDonald’s U.S. pork suppliers to move to “crate free” pork, and set specific timeframes for doing so.
“While the Company looks forward to promoting further collaboration across the industry on this issue, the current pork supply in the U.S. would make this type of commitment impossible,” said McDonald’s of Carl Ichan’s demands. “Furthermore, it reflects a departure from the veterinary science used for large-scale production throughout the industry, and would harm the Company’s shared pursuit of providing customers with high quality products at accessible prices.”