McDonalds to study cow farts before turning them into burgers

11 January 2010

The level of Bronx cheering that goes on in a field of cows is enough to end the world... or something. For some time now, scientists and experts have appeared in various media and fretted over our farty bovine cousins, claiming that cows will kill mankind as flatulent assassins. To be more scientific, they contribute a paltry 4% of carbon emissions. The cows, not the boffins - there have been no investigations into boffin boff levels, which in itself stinks.

As such fast-food giants, McDonalds, have stated that they're going to look up the ring and start taking notes. The global meat vendors have agreed to look into ways of lessening the problem. A study carried out in America in 2006 calculated that producing a single cheeseburger involves the emission of around 3.1kg of carbon dioxide.

"This ground-breaking project will help drive further reductions in our beef supply chain," Steve Easterbrook, chief executive of McDonald's UK, told the Observer newspaper. "At the same time it should also deliver real financial benefits to the farmer."

The first readings will be taken in the US and will be due in April and specialist consultants will advise farmers on the best ways to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. If it works, then they'll roll their ideas out to McDonald's in Europe.

Of course, McDonald's aren't the first megashop to try something like this. Tesco did a bunch of tests on cattle that saw them fitting cows with microphones attached to a special collars which monitored their gaseous burps.

Who knows - maybe we'll all soon be duty bound to start demanding that McDonald's kills cows at a much younger age so we can eat them before they gas us into oblivion. Everyone at Bitterwallet fully embraces any new Happy Veal Meal Deals.


TOPICS:   Restaurants


  • Gunn
    It's more the de-forestation in South America that would concern me, so much rainforest gets chopped down so farmers can graze their cattle.
  • jiva
    good point by Gunn. Plus I was informed one way or another that cows burp more than they fart so I hope they are measuring both ends or it really will be a waste of time.
  • Inactive
    I thought that McDonalds already sold the product from a cows arse.
  • James
    It's not quite so funny, but cows release methane mainly via eructation (burping) than farting. If nothing else, there's an economic interest to the farmer in reducing the volume of gas released because methane is an extremely energy rich substrate produced by ruminal bacteria, but entirely lost to the cow. Changing the composition of foodstuffs for intensively reared cattle may well reduce emissions, but bear in mind that the concentrate they'll be eating has to be grown, processed and transported to them, which can all be extremely energy and space-intensive. If you want to reduce the carbon footprint of the meat you're eating, there are much more intelligent choices to be made: to take one example, here in the UK, grass-fed cows are relatively carbon neutral, because the CH4 they're releasing has already been fixed from atmospheric CO2 by the grass they're eating, which will grow again. It's a complex picture with no easy answer. My first choice would be to support local sustainable production, cutting down on food miles. All of this just seems like to much PR from the factory farming industry.
  • Inactive
    Of course McDonalds really care about the environment, they must produce more throw away packaging than any other company on the planet.
  • Former T.
    James, the assumption that local sourced food reduces food miles is largely false. So many people spend so many trips that the inefficiency leads to more, not less food miles. A guy in California tried eating only local for a year. Something like three months in, he went back to standard food sourcing because he figured out that he was burning through more carbon and having the opposit effect of what he intended. Not making that up, I just can't find the citation again. i did find one similar. Read the "Environmental Impact" paragraph on this Wikipedia page: Here is another: Is local food environmentally costly? And another: The Food Miles Mistake

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