US packaged-food company urges humane poultry slaughter

12-07-2006 | |
US packaged-food company urges humane poultry slaughter

ConAgra Foods, one of the largest packaged-foods companies in the US, has written to its poultry suppliers urging them to consider slaughtering chickens by using ‘controlled-atmosphere killing’.

This method involves locking chickens in a room, the removing all the oxygen in the air and waiting for the birds to die. A current conventional method is to cut chickens’ throats after they have been immobilised with electricity.

ConAgra has been approached about ‘controlled-atmosphere killing’ by the advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group, which was not mentioned in the letter to suppliers, believes this method is more humane.

Last September, ConAgra shareholders rejected a proposal to research whether it would be feasible to require the company’s suppliers to switch to the advocacy group’s preferred method. The group was entitled to present a shareholder proposal to ConAgra because of the ownership of 140 shares of stock.

“ConAgra Foods is committed to the humane treatment of animals,” states the letter from Karl Skold, a vice- president for commodities.

“As a result, we would urge you to evaluate the method of slaughter known as ‘controlled-atmosphere killing’, which some studies indicate is the most humane form of poultry slaughter available and also improves product quality and yield when compared to conventional methods.”

Skold wrote that suppliers that come to the same conclusions about the benefits of controlled-atmosphere killing should consider phasing in the new process.

ConAgra spokeswoman Tania Graves said these letters don’t represent a change in policy for the company.

ConAgra does not plan to force its suppliers to change slaughter methods, she added.

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