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McDonald’s to become first high street restaurant chain to serve 100% Freedom Food pork from RSPCA monitored British farms

18 April 2013

McDonald’s is to switch to using 100% Freedom Food pork from British farms that meet strict RSPCA animal welfare standards across its entire UK menu, it was announced today. The move is McDonald’s latest step to provide consumers with locally- and responsibly-sourced food on the high street, and to continue supporting British and Irish farmers.McDonald’s will become the UK’s second biggest buyer of Freedom Food pork, helping to strengthen the growing Freedom Food market.  As a result, all sausage and bacon on its menu, from the popular breakfast McMuffins through to the bacon in premium salads and promotional burgers, will be from Freedom Food-approved farms.

The new welfare standard forms part of McDonald’s continuing commitment to align the quality and sourcing of its ingredients with consumers’ changing preferences and expectations.  From the end of April, all pig farmers that supply McDonald’s will be required to provide bright, airy environments for pigs, bedded pens and plenty of space for them to move around.

A new poll of 2,000 UK adults indicates consumers will welcome the move:     

·         Nearly three quarters (73 per cent), say they prefer to buy food that is produced from farms with high standards of animal welfare in place

·         People rank price, animal welfare standards, and traceability as the top factors behind their food purchasing decisions [1]  

Since McDonald’s worked with its suppliers to make the switch to free-range eggs 15 years ago, the free-range egg market has quadrupled in size. Currently, almost one third of British pig farmers meet the requirements of the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme and McDonald’s hopes its support for this higher-welfare standard will attract more farmers to adopt Freedom Food standards on their farms.

 Warren Anderson, Vice President, Supply Chain, McDonald’s UK, commented: “As a big customer of British and Irish farming, we are committed to using our scale to drive positive changes such as improvements in welfare standards.  Not only will our move to Freedom Food pork make it easier for people to make affordable, ethical choices on the high street, we hope that more of Britain’s pig producers will have the confidence to invest in the future and adopt the RSPCA’s higher-welfare standards on their farms.

“It’s clear that animal welfare is now an important factor for consumers, alongside provenance and traceability.  By increasing our investment in Freedom Food ingredients, our customers can continue to enjoy food that is responsibly-sourced, tastes great and is helping to support British and Irish farmers too.”

David Squair, Chief Executive of the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme, commented: “The Freedom Food market has been growing for a number of years, but having one of the UK’s biggest restaurant chains serving only Freedom Food logoed pork on its menu marks a major milestone for animal welfare.  McDonald’s has shown that it is possible to bring higher welfare food to consumers on the high street, and we hope that other restaurants will follow McDonald’s lead and more farmers will be inspired to adopt world-class animal welfare standards.”

David Heath, Food and Farming Minister, said: “It’s essential that consumers have confidence with the way their food has been produced and sourced.  I welcome McDonalds’ commitment to supporting British farmers who work hard to produce food to higher welfare standards."

The move to Freedom Food pork forms part of Farm Forward, McDonald’s long-term programme to create a sustainable future for British and Irish farming.  Launched a year ago, in spring 2012, the programme has already made considerable progress in its first year delivering projects including:

·         Progressive Young Farmer Training Programme. The first intake of agricultural students are completing McDonald’s pioneering training programme that enables young farmers to work in every part of the supply chain from farm through to restaurant.  After a successful pilot year, the second intake will start in July 2013

·         Free-of-charge ‘What If?’ digital tool to help beef farmers measure and benchmark their carbon emissions.  McDonald’s and environment consultancy The ECO2 Project developed the tool based on a three-year research study among more than 200 beef  farmers

·         New research to prove the welfare and economic benefits of providing tree cover to encourage free-range hens to roam freely outdoors, which McDonald’s has shared with egg producers across the UK

·         Sustainable Beef Clubs involving over 200 leading beef farmers, which are knowledge-sharing events delivered in collaboration with the abattoirs that supply whole cuts of quality British and Irish beef to McDonald’s

McDonald’s serves 100% British and Irish beef, 100% Freedom Food pork from British farms and free-range eggs on its UK menu.  Other ethically-sourced menu choices include Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee and tea served with organic milk from UK dairies.

 ENDS

[1] Populus surveyed 2007 UK adults aged 18-35+ between 28th March and 1st April 2013. The data has been weighted to be representative of all people in the UK.

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