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ARCHIVE - KFC Cruelty: Business As Usual

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KFC Corporation, Yum! Brands and its Board of Directors, priszm brandz:

KFC and Yum! Brands had the opportunity to make a difference—for some 850 million birds AND innumerable consumers who care about the way they are treated. Instead, on March 28, 2005, KFC's COO, general counsel, and others involved in negotiations PETA initiated in 2001 chose to discount recommendations from a jointly approved panel of animal welfare experts.

Rather than heed qualified advice from KFC's own "advisory board" and leading poultry scientists in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S.—KFC/Yum! Brands endorsed a "plan of action" with flimsy guidelines and halfhearted vows to write letters and conduct further research.

This doesn't accomplish a heck of a lot for the 25 chickens killed per second for KFC.

Perhaps the fact domestic fowl possess a complex nervous system and intelligence comparable to cats, dogs, and primates doesn't interest you. Maybe you don't care that chickens in a natural environment develop social hierarchies, identify one another, nurture their young, build nests, take dust baths, or roost in trees.

But from a business standpoint, you ought to acknowledge the growing consumer base concerned about cruelty on factory farms. I am extremely disappointed in KFC/Yum! Brands and will advise friends, family and colleagues to join me in a boycott of your food brands until visible strides are made to prevent animal suffering on all contract farms.

I appeal to KFC/Yum! Brands to adopt the principles outlined in PETA's four-point plan:

1.) Institute an "Animal Care Standards" policy. Safeguard factory-farmed chickens from ammonia concentration, substandard lighting, and intensive confinement. Ban the deliberate starvation of breeding birds and provide mental/physical stimulation for all birds. Currently, chickens cannot engage in even a single natural behavior. Stuffed by the tens of thousands into lightless, waste-filled sheds, ammonia fumes sear through their eyes and lungs. A chicken's entire life occupies a space roughly the size of a sheet of paper!

Clearly, these birds require more space and objects to perch on or peck so they can express some instinctive habits. Simple improvements could eliminate the gruesome practice of amputating the birds' beaks and toes to curtail fighting and competitive behaviors.

2.) Utilize controlled-atmosphere slaughter in place of electrical stunning and throat slitting. The present breakneck production line begins with shackled birds slung upside down from a revolving rail. Their heads are plunged into electrified water baths with settings commonly below the level necessary to render them unconscious. As a result, many birds remain cognizant when their throats are slit. Some birds flap so frantically, they miss the stun bath and automated or manual neck-cutters altogether. Fully alert, they are immersed in feather-extracting tanks of scalding water.

3.) Replace coarse handling with humane mechanized gathering. Studies demonstrate that hand capture leads to four times as many fractured legs, over eight times more bruising, and increased anxiety.

4.) Do not fill birds with growth hormones, drugs, and antibiotics for nontherapeutic purposes. The use of drugs creates breast-heavy "Franken-birds" with crippling leg abnormalities, collapsing lungs, and heart disease. Anatomically altered birds cannot support their own weight and many starve to death within inches of food before reaching slaughter weight at two months of age.

Chickens are not protected under the Humane Slaughter Act. Regulations at the federal and state levels are lax to nonexistent. That made it fairly easy for workers inside a Moorefield, West Virginia Pilgrim's Pride plant to brutally torture chickens. Captured on video in July of 2004, employees of this major supplier to KFC restaurants smashed birds against floors and walls and tore beaks from their faces. They decapitated live birds by twisting off their heads. They spat tobacco into the chickens' eyes and mouths and spray-painted their faces.

We are only asking for basic improvements. At the very least, animals killed for human consumption deserve immunity from abuse—whether that abuse falls under "acceptable" husbandry practices or illegal animal cruelty.

Thank you,

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