Business & Lobbying

Carl Icahn criticizes McDonald’s over animal welfare policies


Carl Icahn criticized McDonald’s for its lacking animal welfare policies, as well as Wall Street for capitalizing on environment, social and corporate governance investments for profit over results, according to a letter to McDonald’s shareholders on Thursday.

Icahn’s letter specifically criticized the McDonald’s board of directors for “failing shareholders and stakeholders by presiding over animal welfare violations, supply chain lapses and what I perceive to be a hollow environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda.”

“I want to shine a light on what may be the biggest hypocrisy of our time: a large number of Wall Street firms and their bankers and lawyers appear to be capitalizing on ESG to drive profits without doing nearly enough to support tangible societal progress,” he also wrote, adding that “the massive asset managers who are among McDonald’s’ largest owners must back up their words with actions.”

In his letter, Icahn also criticized the fast food giant’s use of gestation stalls, or small crates that house pregnant pigs. 

His remarks echo previous statements he has made after the company had pledged to stop using gestation stalls by 2022 but did not fulfill that promise.

“McDonald’s cares about the health and welfare of the animals in our supply chain and has long led the industry with our animal welfare commitments,” the fast food company said in a statement on Thursday. 

“What Mr. Icahn is demanding from McDonald’s and other companies is completely unfeasible,” the company added. “Based on current estimates, McDonald’s would require at least 300-400 times the animals housed today in ‘crate-free’ systems to keep our supply chain running.”

At the time of his earlier criticism, the billionaire investor nominated two people to the company’s board of directors in an effort to change the company’s policies surrounding animal welfare. 

On Thursday, McDonald’s called that move one that would “remove valuable directors with strong track records from the McDonald’s Board” and replace them with “single-platform nominees” who lack the “qualifications to add meaningful value to the majority of issues regularly faced by the McDonald’s Board.” 

Icahn’s stake in McDonald’s is relatively small as he has about 200 shares, or about a $25,000 stake in the $187 billion company.

Tags Animal welfare Carl Icahn McDonald's

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