USDA Denies Petition for Unlimited Chicken Slaughter Line Speed

USDA Denies Petition for Unlimited Chicken Slaughter Line Speed
iStock/roibu

Earlier this week the USDA denied a request by the chicken industry to increase slaughter line speeds. The decision comes after the agency received more than 100,000 comments urging the agency to dismiss the request. The petition was compounded by months of campaigning by animal protection and workers’ rights groups citing the risks and inefficiency unlimited line speeds could bring.

Los Angeles-based animal rights group Mercy for Animals led the coalition of organizations including Animal Welfare Institute, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society of the United States, all pushing the USDA to deny the request.

Under current USDA regulations, certain chicken slaughterhouses can kill as many as 140 birds per minute. This already high speed rate can often lead to botched slaughter and worker injuries. The petition to increase the speed came via the National Chicken Council with hopes to remove limits on the number of birds killed per minute in hopes to increase profits. But the move would more likely just increase the risk of unsuccessful slaughter attempts and risk to workers, as documented in numerous undercover investigations.

“The USDA’s decision to deny the chicken industry’s dangerous petition will prevent additional suffering for billions of chickens each year,” Vandhana Bala, Mercy For Animals’ general counsel, said in a statement. “Our undercover investigations showing the brutal reality of chicken slaughter have exposed birds scalded alive in hot water tanks and having their heads and legs ripped off, all while conscious and able to feel pain. We applaud the USDA for standing up to the chicken industry’s reckless request that would have resulted in more botched slaughter, placing consumers, workers, and animals in harm’s way.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.