McDonald’s has put together an impressive list of scientists and dairy and beef supply chain experts to tackle the complex task of improving cull-dairy cow welfare throughout the highly segmented supply chain. A number of those experts assisted with the development of this article.

Rickette Collins, quality systems director for McDonald’s US Supply Chain, recently took time to answer questions about the taskforce McDonald’s has assembled.

1)What prompted the McDonald’s interest in the condition of cull-dairy cows?Our interest in this topic lies in the fact that dairy products and dairy cattle are vital to our business. For more than a decade, McDonald’s has viewed animal health and welfare as a critical component of our philosophy to develop a sustainable supply chain. These efforts began with our early partnerships with suppliers, advisors and industry experts to integrate animal health and welfare standards and third-party audits. Today, we continue to survey the industry landscape to identify opportunities that may exist.

2)What is the desired outcome of this project?We strive to ensure that our business practices and policies make a positive impact, which includes making sure that the animals in our supply chain are properly cared for throughout their lives.

In consultation with our independent experts, like Dr. Temple Grandin and our supplier partners, we’ve identified opportunities to further evaluate dairy-animal health and welfare within McDonald’s extended supply chain. We are in the early stages of understanding the multiple segments within the dairy industry, and are looking for ways to partner with our supplier experts, scientific advisors and the greater dairy industry to drive continuous improvement in animal health and welfare.

3)Is there a time frame for the activity?Dairy-animal health and welfare has been identified as an area of focus for 2013 and beyond. We are currently engaged with our advisors, supplier partners and the dairy industry to identify how McDonald’s can promote improvement.

4)Do you have any additional thoughts about McDonald’s focus on animal welfare?Animal health and welfare is not only a focus for McDonald’s in the US, but continues to be a focus globally. In 2012, McDonald’s formed a new global Animal Health & Welfare Team.

This new global animal health and welfare team is responsible for:

• Identifying global opportunities to improve the health and welfare of animals raised for food production;

• Establishing evidence-based global policy, programs and procedures that can be verified and validated by independent third parties; and

• Promoting best practices by supporting one, unified set of global standards for animal health and welfare.