This is completely off-topic, but I just received this awful petition notice from the Humane Society. If you eat poultry, you may hate me for sharing this. But I think you'd feel better eating your chicken caesar salad if this law were amended. I'm an occasional vegetarian precisely for reasons like this one. (And I know there are those out there who think this is BS... if you feel a burning need to leave a comment, I won't take the time to argue with you.)
If you read through it, there's a pretty condemning statement about Pilgrim's Pride. Talk about damaging a brand...
Last year nearly nine billion chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other birds were slaughtered in the United States with no requirement that their deaths be humane. Why? Because the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), which is supposed to ensure that animals are rendered insensible to pain before being slaughtered, does not cover poultry.
That’s right: The federal law designed to protect food animals from suffering during slaughter excludes a shocking 95% of those animals.
Because of this exclusion, chickens and turkeys are entirely at the mercy of major poultry processors. After six weeks of being reared in dreadfully overcrowded factory-like conditions with breeding and feeding practices that leave many birds unable to walk naturally, they are shipped off to the slaughterhouse. There, at a furious pace, they are grabbed and shackled upside down by their legs on a mechanized line. Still conscious, the birds are then dragged through an electrified water bath designed to immobilize them, passed through a neck-slicer, and dropped into scalding water to loosen their feathers. Due to the speed of the assembly line and their own desperate motions, many chickens evade both the immobilization bath and the neck-slicer and are literally scalded to death.
Federal regulations require that the U.S. Department of Agriculture condemn those poultry carcasses that appear to have died from causes other than neck cutting. In 2003, more than 3.4 million carcasses were condemned by the USDA, meaning these birds died either because they were handled roughly during shackling or because they entered the scalder alive.
The industry repeatedly assures the American public that poultry are being treated and killed humanely. Yet the industry has proven incapable of self-regulation; time and time again companies have shown blatant disregard for animal welfare. The horrifying abuses that were exposed in July 2004 at the Pilgrim’s Pride slaughterhouse in West Virginia--in which large numbers of chickens were thrown against walls and stomped by workers--were among the worst known cases of cruelty in the commercial slaughter business.
However, this wasn’t the first outrageous case, and it won’t be the last--unless strong action is taken to change the attitude of the industry and to require new procedures to prevent such abuses. It’s time that the HMSA bring poultry under its protective wing.
Sign the petition here, and pass on the word. There are a lot of relatively meaningless things that spread through the blogosphere... it would be nice if the power of the blogosphere was used to make a difference on something important. Many thanks.