In the wake of ABC News and Mercy for Animals investigation and an FDA warning to Sparboe about potentially unhealthy egg producing conditions, McDonald's and another major retailer, Target, both dumped Sparboe as an egg supplier. Target also immediately pulled its eggs off the shelves. But McDonald's continues to use caged bird suppliers, along with cage-free farms, as they study the effects of each on health, safety and animal welfare.
As to the allegations of animal cruelty at Sparboe, a spokesperson for McDonald's said at the time of the original report that the behavior seen on videos provided by "20/20" was "disturbing and completely unacceptable."
Ken Klippen, head of government affairs at Sparboe defended the hygiene and treatment of animals at his company and said that some the images caught on tape were an "aberration," but defended the use of battery cages in general. Instead, he accused animal rights activists of spreading myths about the cages, saying that it is possible for the birds to turn around and to spread their wings.
Later, Sparboe owner and president Beth Sparboe Schnell posted a letter on the company's website announcing the company had taken "a series of actions aimed at strengthening our animal care procedures and ensuring that our chickens are treated humanely." Those actions included the creation of a "sustainability task force" to improve company practices and re-training for employees who handle birds.
Still, the celebrities said McDonald's needs to make sure their suppliers treat chickens better.
"It's a good time for some great changes at McDonald's. As the largest egg buyer in the entire country, McDonald's has the power -- and the moral responsibility -- to ensure that the eggs in its Egg McMuffins don't come from rotten egg suppliers," the letter says.