New investigation video exposes contaminated chicken flesh at Chipotle supplier

Mercy For Animals calls on Chipotle to live up to its animal welfare promises as consumer concerns rise

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 28, 2024) — A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation into a slaughterhouse that supplies Chipotle reveals blue foreign material that appears to be plastic in chicken flesh. The investigator and several other workers on the deboning line of a slaughterhouse operated by George’s Inc., one of the 10 largest chicken companies in the United States, noted the foreign material multiple times. 

The new hidden-camera footage also exposes horrific factory-farming practices that contradict the industry-leading commitments Chipotle touts in its sustainability report: 

— Many chickens not rendered unconscious before having their throats slit despite Chipotle’s requirement that all animals in its supply chain be stunned before slaughter. 

— The use of “Frankenchickens” — chickens bred to grow monstrously large unnaturally fast — many of whom suffer joint dislocations as their legs are held straight and forced into shackles, likely due to bone and joint problems stemming from rapid growth.  

— Birds dumped from cramped, filthy transport crates onto a crowded conveyor belt and hastily hung upside down by their legs while fully conscious on a quickly moving live-shackle line.

“A relentless stream of chickens arrived, some lifeless, others with bloodied wings and mangled limbs,” said the Mercy For Animals undercover investigator. “I watched as one hen was roughly hung by a shattered leg. It was a hellish sight, and I searched for any semblance of humaneness in what I had witnessed. Sometimes shackled chickens would get caught in the machines and torn apart. I saw their legs return to us, still in the shackles, the rest of their bodies missing.”

In 2017, Chipotle committed to meeting Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) standards by 2024. But in its 2022 “Cultivate a Better World” sustainability report, Chipotle reported that only 14% of its supply chain had switched from live-shackle slaughter — the slaughter method shown in this investigation — to the less cruel controlled-atmosphere stunning. Chipotle has also failed to report any progress on banning Frankenchickens and switching to higher-welfare breeds. calls on Chipotle to meet BCC standards and fulfill its commitments to animals and consumers, including ending live-shackle slaughter. 

“Continued use of live-shackle slaughter is agonizing for workers and animals,” said Paula Tejeda-Moncrief, Mercy For Animals’ U.S. director of investigations. “It’s time for Chipotle to live up to its public promises and demonstrate real transparency and leadership in animal welfare, which could impact more than 30 million chickens a year.” 

Notes to Editors

For more information or to schedule an interview with Paula Tejeda-Moncrief, contact Ronnika A. McFall at [email protected].  

Media Resources:

— Link to the investigation website.

Mercy For Animals is a leading international nonprofit working to end industrial animal agriculture by constructing a just and sustainable food system. Active in Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, and the United States, the organization has conducted over 100 investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses, influenced over 500 corporate policies, and helped pass historic legislation to ban cages for farmed animals. Join us at The Mercy For Animals 25th Anniversary Gala to honor those who fight for compassionate alternatives to the status quo and a world where all animals are respected, protected, and free.