Animal welfare agency can sue government over poultry slaughter

07-09-2006 | | |

A US district court has ruled that the Humane Society can sue the federal government over industry practices for slaughtering poultry including waterbath stunning.

The fundamental issue in the case is the fact that a large amount of the animals consumed for food are not provided federal protection during the slaughter process.
Plaintiffs argued that that the process of shackling conscious birds upside-down and moving them through an electrified water bath that paralyses them is cruel to animals. They also say the process is unsafe for humans because it increases the chance that a bird will inhale faeces in the water, leading to a higher bacteria level that could cause food poisoning for consumers if the meat was not properly cooked. They allege that birds trying to escape can spread dirt and dust inhaled by workers, defecate on the employees and cause them emotional distress after seeing the birds suffer.
“Plaintiffs claim they face an imminent exposure to heightened risk that they will become ill from consuming inhumanely slaughtered animals,” Judge Patel said in the decision.
USDA veterinarians are assigned to poultry plants to ensure practices there do not violate the law. A USDA spokesman had no comment on the decision. Several organisations including the Humane Society and the East Bay Animal Advocates were dismissed from the lawsuit but individual members still have standing within the court, the judge decided.
The Humane Society has estimated that 9 billion birds, or about 95% of domestic animals raised on farms, are unprotected during the slaughter process.

More about