Activist company

McDonald’s CEO candidate says company faces sustainability risks

The company is challenged on its position on antibiotics, well-being

March 28, 2022

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2 minute read

One of investor Carl Icahn’s director nominees at McDonald’s Corp said she would push the burger giant to tackle sustainability issues such as reducing the environmental impact of farming and reducing antibiotic use, Reuters reported.

So far, Icahn, the well-known activist investor, has framed his challenge to secure two McDonald’s board seats primarily on the chain’s supplier treatment of pigs.

But Leslie Samuelrich, president of Green Century Capital Management, said ending the use of gestation crates, as Icahn called for, would have other benefits, like reducing overcrowded farms that cause pollution.

“While we believe it is a solid company, it has certain vulnerabilities that it does not recognize in relation to reputational and governance risks,” Samuelrich said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

She said she raised her concerns with three McDonald’s directors at a meeting this week and hopes the company will make her a candidate for election to its board later this spring.

A McDonald’s representative declined to comment.

Samuelrich is a well-known voice on corporate environmental issues, including a 2018 effort that led to McDonald’s agreeing to restrict the use of antibiotics in its beef supply. Samuelrich said she was concerned McDonald’s had not followed through.

On its website, McDonald’s says it is working with partners on responsible antibiotic use and that amid COVID-related delays, it is “evolving our plan.” The company also said it would evaluate Icahn’s candidates and defended its treatment of animals.

Separately, Samuelrich said she supports the actions taken by McDonald’s in Russia in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The company’s temporary store closures in Russia are costing it about $50 million a month as it continues to pay its staff.

Samuelrich said that unless Russian President Vladimir Putin changes course, McDonald’s should consider pulling out of the country altogether.

It would “send a message to Russian leaders and residents about how Putin’s invasion was perceived” abroad, she said.