NEW YORK: Billionaire Carl Icahn has nominated two allies to the board of McDonald’s, the company confirmed Sunday, part of the activist investor’s campaign against pig-farming practices used in the fast-food giant’s supply chains.
“Carl Icahn has nominated Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler for the 2022 election,” McDonald’s said in a statement, adding that the board would “evaluate the nominees as it would any other candidates proposed to it”.
Icahn’s “stated focus in making this nomination relates to a narrow issue regarding the Company’s pork commitment”, it added, in a reference to the use of so-called gestation crates.
According to the Humane Society, the metal enclosures – used to contain sows for almost all of a pregnancy – are so small that the animal cannot turn around, and can lead to health issues such as infection or anatomical problems.
Icahn is known for taking stakes in companies to ask for radical measures before reaping huge profits, but he has said animal welfare concerns are behind his intervention.
“I really do feel emotional about these animals and the unnecessary suffering,” he told Bloomberg.
He said he had worked with the Humane Society a decade ago on the use of the crates, winning an agreement from McDonald’s that it would stop buying from suppliers using the cages within 10 years.
McDonald’s “did a little something but never delivered”, Icahn said.
But the fast-food giant has said that, since its 2012 commitment, “McDonald’s has led the industry, and today an estimated 30–35% of US pork production has moved to group housing systems”.
“By the end of 2022, the Company expects to source 85-90% of its US pork volumes from sows not housed in gestation crates during pregnancy,” it added.
The company noted that Icahn, “who states that he holds 200 shares of McDonald’s stock, is the majority owner of Viskase, a company that produces and supplies packaging for the pork and poultry industry”.
“It’s noteworthy that Mr Icahn has not publicly called on Viskase to adopt commitments similar to those of McDonald’s 2012 commitment.”