There is distrust of the chicken industry among US consumers and a strong desire for more humanely raised chicken choices at the grocery store, a survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has found.
In the US, chicken is the most frequently eaten meat, with consumption rising by 17% last year, according to the National Chicken Council. While a majority of Americans eat chicken, the newly released survey conducted by Edge Research, Inc. and commissioned by the ASPCA as part of its national 'Truth About Chicken' campaign, reveals that consumers are very concerned with how chickens are treated on the farm.
The ASPCA's survey found that more than 80% of respondents feel it's important that the chickens they eat be humanely raised. Yet, less than a third of respondents trust the companies that make chicken products to treat their chickens in a humane fashion.
Humane treatment of chickens raised for meat is more than just a moral imperative. Seventy-eight percent of chicken consumers surveyed feel that raising chickens humanely leads to safer chicken products, and more than 75% of chicken consumers surveyed wish there were more humanely-raised chicken options available at their local grocery stores.
"Concern for farm animal welfare is increasing – Americans want to know the chicken they eat has been raised in a humane environment, both for the birds' sakes and for their own health," said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. "The more these concerns are raised, the closer we'll come to a time when farm animals are not abused, nor our health potentially imperiled, in the name of cheaper dinners and higher profits."
Consolidation of the chicken industry has placed the production of chicken in the hands of a few large companies, resulting in very little variety in the type of chicken the average American can buy or order in a restaurant, the welfare group has claimed.
"It's incredibly important that concerned consumers share their desire for more humane chicken options," said Suzanne McMillan, senior director for the ASPCA's Farm Animal Welfare Program. "We need fundamental changes in the way we raise chickens for meat to alleviate the needless suffering of billions of birds and create safer food options for Americans."
The ASPCA advocates for raising chickens with more balanced growth in better conditions, which will result in healthier birds with overall higher welfare.