Rearing and Slaughter of Animals

McDonald's through subsidiaries, franchisees and suppliers, is responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of cattle, chicken and pigs every year. It is the Defendants' case that the methods of slaughter used are cruel and that the slaughter itself is unnecessary. It is also the Defendants case that the rearing of those cattle, chicken and pigs involves unnecessary cruelty and suffering. Further that some of the beef used by the Plaintiffs comes from old dairy cows and the dairy industry involves a great deal of suffering for cows.

According to McDonald's own publicity, it is the world's largest user of beef.

In the early 1970's McDonald's advertising agents Cooper & Golin stated that an area the size of Greater London would be required to accommodate all the cattle, standing flank to flank, that had gone into making the 12 billion burgers so far sold.

In 1992 in the USA, one of McDonald's suppliers, Otto & Sons, was supplied by ConAgra's Monfort plant in Grand Island, Nebraska. At this plant, cattle were taken from trucks and put in a holding pen outside the plant. They were then directed by electric prods into chutes. They were then shot with stun guns and hung upside down by their hooves until their throats were cut.

McDonald's suppliers, McKey food services, are supplied with beef from amongst others ABP Ltd, Wellingborough. ABP Ltd use the captive bolt pistol to stun cattle prior to slaughter. Through their solicitors McDonald's have stated that they consider the use of the captive-bolt pistol to be a cruel practice.

On 2nd February 1990, on the instructions of the 2nd plaintiff, McDonald's solicitors sent a letter to the Bournemouth Advertiser threatening legal proceedings for defamation. The letter demanded that the newspaper publish an apology for an article concerning McDonald's and the slaughter of animals that appeared in the newspaper on the 12th October l989, and demanded that the newspaper pay the plaintiff's costs. The letter stated ...`You publish the remarks of Malcolm Venn of Animal Aid, citing a consultants report. Not only is such a quotation obviously highly selective, but also it in no way establishes that McDonald's approve the captive-bolt method cited. The article clearly implies that McDonald's can be associated with this or other similarly cruel practices.' The purpose and/or effect of this letter was to deceive the Bournemouth Advertiser into believing that McDonald's suppliers did not use the captive bolt pistol for stunning and as a result the newspaper printed an apology.

McDonald's purported policy of not accepting beef originating from cattle subjected to growth promoters is not adhered to. In July 1993 McDonald's admitted they accepted beef from cattle which had been given growth promoting antibiotics such as Virginia, Mycin and Avo parcin.

Accordingly to its own publicity material McDonald's is the second largest user of chickens in the world. Over 90 million chickens are raised in the UK each year to produce Chicken McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches.

In 1984 McDonald's entered into a partnership with Sun Valley poultry and helped them to introduce new methods to their farming.

Antibiotics are routinely used at Sun Valley poultry in an attempt to prevent severe lameness In broiler chickens.

In the USA, in or around 1980, In order to supply enough chicken for McDonald's demands, Tysons developed an entirely new breed of chicken which it called `Mr. McDonald' . The chicken was specifically designed to increase the efficiency of the nugget-making process and was nearly twice as large as the standard supermarket broiler.

In June - November 1982, a USDA official inspection report (USDA P7100) of one of Tysons 13 processing plants, its main one in Nashville, Arkansas, found numerous examples of unsanitary conditions. Similar problems were reported at other Tysons plants springdale (P481), North Little Rock (P746), springhill (P7051), cumming (P243) and Rogers (P7221).

McDonald's uses eggs supplied by Oasters who keep chickens in battery cages, where the chickens have no freedom of movement, no access to fresh air and sunshine.


1. Of:
"Further or in the alternative, the words complained of in their natural and ordinary meaning are true in substance and in fact. In so far as it may be necessary the Defendants will rely on Section 5 of the Defamation Act 1952.

Particulars of justification will be served separately."


The Defendants seek to justify the following meanings in respect of each plaintiff.

The business of the First and Second plaintiffs by its nature and by its scale involves the slaughter of many animals, born and bred solely for such slaughter. Some of them - especially chickens and pigs spend their lives in the entirely artificial conditions of huge factory farms, with no access to fresh air or sunshine and no freedom of movement. Further, that animals often suffer when they are slaughtered over and above the fact of death itself in that they panic and can become frantic. The numerous outlets of the First and Second Plaintiffs worldwide inevitably leads to unnecessary death and suffering of animals both throughout their lives and by the fact of and methods of their slaughter.

6. Of: Slaughter of Animals



(i) The Defendants case is that the Plaintiffs bear responsibility for the slaughter because of the demand they create and satisfy. The slaughter is carried out by or for those who suppLy McDonald's, some of whom are subsidiaries of the first or second Plaintiff. It follows that the Defendants cannot identify each subsidiary, franchisee and supplier responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of cattle, chicken and pigs every year. The fact that their slaughter is caused as contended is a matter of common-sense given the size and nature of the First and Second plaintiffs operations.

(ii) It is the Defendants case that since the slaughter is unnecessary it is also cruel. Further, the Defendants will rely upon the methods used and conditions of abattoirs used for killing cattle including the captive bolt pistol and cow-puncher, which are sometimes used with head restraints. When cattle are stunned they are hoisted up by their rear legs and their throats are then slit open and the animal bled out. Pigs are usually killed using high voltage head to body stunning which causes cardiac arrest.

The Defendants contend that the conditions in which chicken are reared and the killing methods are cruel. In particular, broilers are factory farmed, which often means that they are deprived of proper space and light. Their growth is forced and they are killed after about seven weeks. Often the forced growth causes such pain in the limbs of the birds that they are unable to move around at all. Often these chickens suffer from Hock Burns and ulcerated feet. When they are gathered for slaughter they are often grabbed by their legs and carried upside down which frequently causes dislocation of joints and other injuries, including bruising and broken wings and legs. The method of slaughter is by stunning and then cutting with a knife. About one third of all broilers are not stunned properly and so are sentient when they go to the knife. Some birds even enter the scalding tank fully conscious.