McDonald's drops Minn. egg supplier over cruelty chargesby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
McDonald's is dropping a Minnesota-based egg supplier after undercover video by an animal rights group found questionable practices at its farms.
Litchfield-based Sparboe Farms produces more than 3 billion eggs each year.
The group Mercy for Animals released video it supplied earlier this month to ABC News showing mistreatment of birds and alleged unsanitary conditions.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cited Sparboe for lapses in the company's measures to prevent the spread of salmonella.
The company said it has fired employees shown mistreating birds. But Mercy for Animals Executive Director Nathan Runkle said the farms themselves were the focus of their opposition.
"The worst cruelty that these animals are subjected to is a lifetime of confinement in cages where they can't even spread their wings, they can't engage in the most basic behavior," Runkle said. "These cages are so inherently cruel, that they've been banned in California, in Michigan — the entire European Union has banned them."
Sparboe Farms says it has established a humane treatment policy and is retraining staff in the wake of the video's release. The company released a video statement on its website featuring company president Beth Schnell.
"The acts depicted in the footage are unacceptable, inconsistent with our values as farmers and violate our animal care policies and procedures," Schnell said in the video.
Mercy for Animals' video (warning: graphic content)