Today, Perdue Foods, one of the nation’s largest poultry producers, announced a precedent-setting commitment to improving animal welfare. The announcement follows extensive negotiations with Mercy For Animals, Compassion in World Farming, and The Humane Society of the United States. A disturbing MFA undercover investigation revealing illegal animal abuse at two Perdue contract farms prompted the talks. Moreover, nearly 182,000 consumers signed our Change.org petition urging Perdue to adopt more stringent animal welfare standards.
While there is still work to be done, Perdue’s commitment is the most comprehensive animal welfare policy ever adopted by a major chicken producer. Of the more than 8 billion chickens killed for meat annually in the U.S., Perdue’s policy will reduce the suffering of nearly 680 million birds on 2,200 farms.
Citing the “five freedoms,” a set of ethical imperatives for farmed animal welfare, the policy outlines the company’s efforts to implement on-farm improvements, such as environmental enrichment and natural light; curb malicious abuse; and eliminate cruel live-shackle slaughter.
Perdue also addresses the unnaturally rapid growth rates of chickens, which cause incredible suffering to birds—crippling them under their own weight, rendering them immobile, leaving them in constant pain, and causing many to die of organ failure. Additionally, the policy mandates annual third-party audits and increased video surveillance—including of transport areas—to deter instances of illegal animal abuse.
Most notable is the policy’s commitment to replacing live-shackle slaughter methods with less cruel Controlled Atmosphere Stunning, a move that will spare millions of birds from the horrific suffering caused by dumping, shackling, shocking, and slitting the throats of conscious animals. This change is even more meaningful given that chickens, who comprise 95 percent of land animals raised and killed for food in the U.S., are excluded from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
With this announcement, it’s never been clearer that the days are numbered for many of the poultry industry’s cruelest practices. Perdue’s policy represents important progress and we look forward to seeing the company establish deadlines for the implementation of these crucial changes. Perdue's policy will also hopefully inspire other companies to adopt similar meaningful animal welfare requirements.
It’s now time for Tyson, Foster Farms, and other poultry producers to stop dragging their feet and reduce the needless pain and suffering animals endure on factory farms and in slaughterhouses.
Of course, we can help chickens the most simply by leaving them off our plates. Try these 10 delicious chicken-free products that boast all of the taste but none of the torture.