USDA petitioned to include poultry in humane slaughter

17-11-2017 | | |
USDA petitioned to include poultry in humane slaughter. Photo: Shutterstock
USDA petitioned to include poultry in humane slaughter. Photo: Shutterstock

Animal welfare lobby group Mercy for Animals has filed the first-ever petition calling on the US Department of Agriculture to include poultry in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

The Act, which was passed in 1958, requires that prior to being culled, animals that are slaughtered for food be rendered insensible to pain. But the legislation has been interpreted by the Department to exclude poultry, who make up 98% of all land animals slaughtered for food in the US.

Slaughter abuse

Mercy for Animals says this leaves nearly 9 billion animals each year vulnerable to some of the worst slaughter abuse, including birds being scalded to death in tanks of hot water and having their legs or wings cut off by the beheading machine while alive and conscious.

The USDA’s refusal to include poultry in the HMSA makes no sense, according to the welfare group, which argues that the exclusion suggests that the Department has bowed to industry pressure given that on other issues poultry are stated as livestock.

Federal law excludes 98% of animals

Vandhana Bala, general counsel at Mercy for Animals, said: “It’s unconscionable that the only federal law to protect animals from extreme abuse inside slaughterhouses excludes 98% of animals.

“Chickens and turkeys are just as capable of experiencing fear, pain and distress as other animals and they deserve the same legal protection from malicious cruelty. It’s time the USDA stopped bowing to pressure from a USD$90bn industry and did its job.”

Tom Super, National Chicken Council spokesman, said processors were keen to ensure broilers were handled correctly: “They already have strong moral and financial motivation to ensure chickens are handled properly,” he told Associated Press.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist