McDonald’s isn’t known for the sustainable qualities of its hamburgers, and for good reason–a burger-shaped mashup of various beef sources isn’t all that appetizing to think about. But while MickeyD’s probably won’t start using meat from grass-fed, organic cows anytime soon, the fast food chain is making strides in one important area: cow burps.
McDonald’s one of the biggest purchasers of British beef, with meat from 350,000 cows going into burgers each year. At the same time, methane emissions from gassy cows are responsible for 4% of the U.K.’s total greenhouse gas emissions. So in the spirit of slowing climate change, McDonald’s is launching a three year study into new farming and feeding methods on 350 British farms.
The project, which is being overseen by the ECO2-Project, will be the first to provide measurable data on cow emissions from working farms. Initial results are expected by April, and if all goes well, testing will be extended to McDonald’s Europe.
McDonald’s haters, take heart. The methane initiative will have an effect on much more than just McDonald’s meat. The chain only uses the forequarters and flank of cows in its burgers, which means there are plenty of other cuts of the same animal that go to different suppliers. And the burp minimization project will affect those suppliers as well. Ultimately, other companies might even adopt McDonald’s feeding techniques. It might just be the first time the fast food chain has had a positive effect on the meat industry.