Breaking Footage: Birds’ Legs Ripped Off at Chipotle Chicken Supplier

Mercy For Animals just released a new investigation revealing extreme cruelty inside a Chipotle chicken supplier. The hidden-camera footage shows severed chicken legs hanging from shackles, conscious birds suffering painful throat slitting, and other horrors.

This comprehensive investigation exposes several areas of a chicken slaughterhouse, from unloading and live-shackling to the electrified water bath and throat cutter. The investigator even captured how the flesh is cut and treated—and how foreign material that seemed to be plastic appeared in chicken flesh multiple times.


Our new footage shows extremely stressed and panicked chickens dumped from cramped, filthy transport crates onto a crowded conveyor belt. 

Chickens huddle together in fear below the fast-moving shackles. Occasionally workers toss out severed chicken legs that were hanging on the shackles—likely ripped off the chickens during the brutal live-shackling process.


After being unloaded, chickens are hastily hung upside down by their legs on a rapid live-shackle line. The birds panic and flap their wings, desperate to escape. Many of the chickens’ leg joints dislocate with a “pop,” and cruel breeding practices could be partly to blame. Factory-farmed chickens—often referred to as “Frankenchickens”—are selectively bred to grow so monstrously large and unnaturally fast that their bones and joints sometimes fail. 

In 2017, Chipotle committed to ending the use of chickens bred this way, but the chain has yet to report more than 14% progress toward this goal. 

Stunning and Slaughter

The terrified, shackled birds are then dragged upside down through an electrified water bath meant to render them unconscious. As the chickens thrash, some miss the bath, meaning they may still be conscious when their throats are slit and their feathers are scalded.

Chipotle claims to require that all animals in its supply chain be stunned prior to slaughter, yet our breaking footage clearly shows that many chickens at this slaughter plant were not effectively stunned before being cut open. The company also promised to ban live-shackle slaughter altogether by 2024, but according to their reporting, they are nowhere near this goal. 

Meat Handling

Many times, workers at the deboning line of the slaughterhouse found blue foreign material, which appeared to be plastic, in chicken flesh. 

Throughout its duration, the investigation documented several times a week that machinery needed repairs, causing the production line to stop. After repairs were completed, production-line speeds were increased, forcing workers to move even faster—so fast that some were unable to keep up and chicken flesh piled up on the belts.

Take Action

Chipotle touts its commitment to transparency on its website, in its marketing materials, and throughout its sustainability report. The chain also boasts supposedly rigorous animal welfare standards, including that its chicken is “humane certified.” Chipotle uses animal welfare commitments to advertise itself as a company with integrity that does the right thing. But does any of this look “humane” to you?

Please join us in calling on Chipotle to be transparent. Ask the chain to publish a roadmap for meeting the animal welfare standards promised to consumers.