PETA, which owns 120 shares of Smithfield Foods, has
submitted a shareholder resolution encouraging the company to adopt
controlled-atmosphere killing (CAK) method of poultry slaughter.
Smithfield, which is the largest processor of turkeys in the US, operating
in 29 states and nine countries, currently kills turkeys by electrical stunning
(placing them upside-down by their legs in metal shackles with their heads run
through an electrified bath).
With CAK, the oxygen that turkeys breathe is slowly replaced with inert,
nonpoisonous gasses, putting the birds "to sleep". PETA states that studies of
CAK conclude that in addition to being the least cruel form of poultry
slaughter, it also results in economic benefits.
PETA reports that fast-food giants Burger King, Carl's Jr., Hardee's, and
Wendy's, as well as grocery chain Safeway, are now giving purchasing preference
or consideration to suppliers that use CAK.
As part of its campaign to move the food industry toward implementing CAK,
PETA has become a shareholder in more than 40 companies, including McDonald's,
Wendy's, Wal-Mart, Supervalu, Tyson Foods, and Yum! Brands (KFC's parent
"Controlled-atmosphere killing will not only save birds from some abuses
but also help workers and help Smithfield save money," says PETA Vice President
Bruce Friedrich. "Consumers care about animal welfare, so it's in Smithfield's
best interests to phase in CAK as quickly as possible."