McDonald’s U-turn on Olympic chicken
McDonald’s has abandoned its plans to source chicken for the Olympics from overseas suppliers and has pledged to increase its source of domestic chicken to 100%.
Earlier this month the fast-food giant came in for criticism after the chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) revealed that only 10% of chicken meat served in the four McDonald’s Olympic restaurants would be from British farms, with the remainder coming from existing suppliers overseas.
This decision was particularly controversial after LOCOG had publicly pledged to procure UK Red Tractor Assured farm-assured meat wherever seasonally possible. It said that meat at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games would be fully traceable and would have been produced to strict standards from farm to venue, as part of its pledge to hold the most sustainable Games in history.
A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We have taken the decision to only serve British chicken in our four restaurants at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This will come from our existing UK supply and is possible because of the recent increase in volumes of British chicken breast meat that we have been purchasing. The only meat we use in our chicken products is chicken breast meat. To ensure the consistency in quality, standards and affordability that our customers expect from us, we currently purchase chicken breast meat from the UK and a number of other countries.
It said that it is committed to British farming, purchasing from thousands of farmers across a wide range of categories and spending more than £300m each year on our UK supply chain.
Red Tractor CEO, David Clarke welcomed the decision. He said: “We are delighted that McDonald’s has committed to source 100% Red Tractor Assured chicken for The Olympic Games. It’s a great opportunity to showcase Red Tractor assured chicken in not only the world’s largest chain of quick service restaurants, but in the largest peace-time catering operation in the world. We look forward to working with McDonald’s in the future.
“It’s great news that LOCOG has recognised the importance of delivering quality, traceable food. I believe that this will establish a great legacy for the UK food industry to ensure that assured food continues to receive the level of support and recognition that it rightfully deserves.
"We will be working with our partners and LOCOG to deliver the Red Tractor commitment for 2012 and for many years to come.”
However, the London Green Party, who put pressure on the retailer over its Olympic plans, has called on McDonald’s to go one step further and increase their minimum welfare sourcing standard.
Green Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones said: “This is a real success for British farmers and the people of London. However, British Red Tractor was the absolute basic sourcing standard for Games chicken anyway and, in my opinion, well short of the Games’ aspirations of high animal welfare standards.
“McDonald’s should now go much further and stop using intensively reared chicken from broiler sheds where a chicken may only have the equivalent space of an A4 piece of paper.
“It’s time for McDonald’s to do the right thing and switch to free-range or RSPCA Freedom Food-assured British-reared chicken as its minimum welfare sourcing standard.