MCDONALD'S USA has announced its participation with leading animal welfare scientists, academics, non-government organizations and egg suppliers in a commercial-scale study of housing alternatives for egg-laying hens in the U.S., including cage-free housing, writes Sarah Muirhead for Feedstuffs.

The announcement of the fast-food giant's involvement immediately brought mixed results from animal welfare/rights organizations, with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) saying it is simply a stall tactic on McDonald's part and with the American Humane Assn. (AHA), a participant in the study, saying such research is very much needed to determine if differences do indeed exist in laying hen production systems in regard to welfare implications for the birds.

In addition to animal welfare, the study will also look at environmental, food safety and economic issues related to laying hen production systems.

The study, which expects to involve tens of thousands of hens, will look at the sustainability impacts of different laying hen housing environments on animal health and well-being, safe and affordable food, the environment and worker welfare.

The eggs produced during this study are expected to be used in McDonald's U.S. restaurants, provided that they meet stringent food safety and quality standards.

The research is being led by Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis).

To read the entire article, link to Feedstuffs.