An investigation by The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism into U.S. slaughterhouses found chickens slowly freezing to death, being boiled alive, drowning, and suffocating under piles of other birds.
Hundreds of inspection logs from the United States Department of Agriculture detail numerous incidents of animal cruelty in chicken factory farms and slaughterhouses across the country.
Some logs report thousands of birds dying from heat stress or freezing to death when they were left waiting in transport trucks during heat waves or frigid temperatures. Inspectors noted repeatedly that the facilities had not provided adequate shelter to protect the animals from extreme weather. Other records reveal hundreds of turkeys and chickens bludgeoned, suffocated, or scalded.
To make matters worse, the USDA is not obligated to act on these violations other than to write a report. Horrific, right?
What’s more, the law that’s supposed to protect animals during slaughter, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, does not extend to birds, leaving chickens with virtually no protection from abuse.
An anonymous USDA inspector told The Guardian that she brought animal welfare issues to the attention of her supervisor and plant employees, yet no action was taken: “They just act like sometimes they don’t care.”
Now, a post-Brexit deal could mean that more U.S. chicken ends up in supermarkets around the U.K.
Investigations have also uncovered blatant animal cruelty in U.K. slaughterhouses. The U.K. Food Standards Agency reported a total of 9,511 animal welfare violations committed by slaughterhouse employees, transport truck drivers, and farmers. Over 4,400 breaches were deemed “category four”—the most serious—meaning that the animals were subjected to “avoidable pain, distress, or suffering.”
The report documented a host of atrocities: a cow “violently slammed against a wall” after an argument between two workers, chickens and pigs lowered into scalding water while fully conscious, and a cow taken to slaughter with a facial lesion “completely full of worms.” Thousands of animals were killed without proper stunning.
Being scalded alive is easily one of the worst ways to die. But it’s common in slaughterhouses—so common that The Washington Post reported that more than 1 million birds are scaled alive each year in the U.S. alone. And a Huffington Post article discusses how scientists believe millions of chickens are slaughtered each year while still conscious.
Nico Pitney, senior editor at The Huffington Post, writes:
The extent of suffering is almost certainly vast. If just 1 percent of chickens raised each year in the U.S. are not effectively stunned, it means roughly 90 million animals are experiencing a violent and painful death. That’s more than the total number of dogs kept as pets in this country.
A 2015 Mercy For Animals undercover investigation at a Foster Farms chicken slaughterhouse in Fresno, California, revealed birds scalded alive. MFA filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Foster Farms and American Humane Association (AHA) for misleading consumers by claiming that Foster Farms chicken is humane. The complaint was based on graphic undercover video exposing birds scalded alive and workers punching and kicking birds at a Foster Farms chicken slaughterhouse certified “humane” by AHA.
Having conducted over 60 undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses, MFA has exposed time and time again that animal abuse at factory farms is simply business as usual.