Food service giants urge chicken industry to slow down rapid growth

by Compassion Over Killing Staff

A chicken who’s raised for her for meat, commonly known in the industry as a “broiler,” is forced to live in misery behind the closed doors of a factory farm. This suffering is multiplied by more than 8 billion: the staggering number of chickens slaughtered for meat each year — in the U.S. alone.

Compassion Over Killing has been on front lines in exposing the horrors of the broiler industry, starting with our eye-opening 2004 documentary 45 Days: The Life and Death of Broiler Chicken. More recently, COK has gone undercover inside chicken grow-out facilities supplying Pilgrim’s and broiler breeder facilities contracting with Tyson.

Our hidden camera footage reveals the shocking truth about where America’s chicken dinner comes from: these birds are forced to eat and sleep in their own waste, which often leads to severe ammonia burns on their skin; they are genetically manipulated to rapidly grow so obese, they suffer from leg painful deformities making it difficult or sometimes even impossible to access food and water.  As covered by CNN, our investigator at the Pilgrim’s facility also documented sick or injured birds being collected in buckets and buried alive in outdoor pits.

And just a few months ago, the Washington Post broke the story about COK’s investigator capturing for the first time ever the painful realities inside broiler breeding facilities — these are parents of the birds raised and killed for food. In addition to documenting extreme abuses, our footage also uncovers a standard yet relatively unknown practice: male breeder chickens are grabbed by their heads and a dull plastic bone is stabbed through their nostrils. Referred to as “boning,” this is done to severely restrict the birds’ food intake to prevent them from growing so obese they can no longer walk.

After viewing our video, Tyson immediately ended the barbaric practice of “boning”, and urged by COK, Perdue and Wayne Farms quickly followed suit. These changes at major poultry producers have the wingspan to impact the lives of millions of birds. But the underlying issue behind “boning” remains: broiler chickens are bred to grow unnaturally fast, which can lead to deformities and even heart attacks. We are now asking you to sign our petition urging Tyson to address this important issue.

We are now seeing even more change happen: This week, two of the largest food service companies in the world, Compass Group and Aramark, have just announced chicken welfare improvements that will be required of all their suppliers, affecting more than 100 million animals as Huffington Post reports. These companies supply food to thousands of facilities. Among the announced changes: slower broiler growth rates, minimum space requirements, and that chickens must be rendered unconscious before being shackled on the processing line.

Though not perfect, these are tremendous steps forward in addressing important welfare issues that have for far too long gone unchallenged. Undercover investigations are a crucial component driving these company-wide changes, and motivating millions of people to stand up for chickens by speaking out — and by leaving them off our plates.