Cases of birds being boiled alive and inspectors finding live birds among dead ones at US slaughterhouses have been highlighted by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Between April and September 2021, when more than 9.6 million birds were slaughtered, the USDA conducted inspections at 300 of the 320 poultry slaughterhouses across the US, including plants owned by major industry players such as Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Perdue Foods and Koch Farms.
Of these inspections, 181 citations were recorded during the slaughter process in poultry plants in 22 states. It found:
The results drew anger from animal welfare group The Humane League. Its president, Vicky Bond, said the government-issued data -released as a result of a lawsuit led by the Animal Welfare Institute and Farm Sanctuary – provided a clear and undisputable view of what is going in abattoirs across the country: “What animals and workers have to go through to get meat on the shelves is disgraceful. The default method of live-shackle slaughter is pure torture for chickens and makes working in a slaughterhouse one of the most dangerous jobs for workers.”
“…85% of farmers and their families supported a complete ban on new industrial animal agriculture facilities.”
Bond called for companies to adopt improved welfare standards set out in the Better Chicken Commitment.
The charity says that in the last decade consumers have become more concerned about farm animal welfare and were looking for strong standards. Research from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), published in November 2020, found that 89% of Americans were concerned about industrial animal agriculture, citing animal welfare, workers’ safety or public health risks as a concern. And 85% of farmers and their families supported a complete ban on new industrial animal agriculture facilities – almost twice the support of the public.
Daisy Freund, ASPCA vice-president, said policymakers should listen to the American people and act urgently to address and prevent the abuse of animals and workers.
US Senators are looking to tackle the issue of worker conditions in meat plants. A recent bill from New Jersey Democrat Senator Cory Brooker and US Democrat California Representative Ro Khanna has won support among worker advocates and organisers. The ‘Protecting America’s Meatpacking Workers Act’ would provide much-needed protection for workers.
Information can be found in the Humane League’s State of Slaughter report, here.