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Chickens killed for McDonald's are slaughtered using an outdated method that results in extreme suffering. As one of the biggest sellers of chicken meat, McDonald's has the responsibility—and the ability—to reduce this abuse by demanding that its U.S. and Canadian suppliers use a less cruel slaughter method.
In the slaughterhouses of McDonald's U.S. and Canadian chicken suppliers, birds are dumped out of their transport crates and hung upside down in metal shackles, which can result in broken bones, extreme bruising, and hemorrhaging. Workers have the opportunity to abuse live birds, and birds have their throats cut while they are still conscious. Many birds are immersed in tanks of scalding-hot water while they are still alive and able to feel pain.
In 2000, following the launch of PETA's (original) McCruelty campaign, McDonald's made some basic animal welfare improvements. Since that time, the company has refused to eliminate the worst abuses that its chickens suffer, including abuses during slaughter. This cruelty could be illegal if dogs or cats—or even pigs or cows—were the victims.
There is a less cruel method of slaughter available today that would eliminate these abuses, yet McDonald's refuses to require its U.S. and Canadian suppliers to switch to it.
Since 2002, PETA has been urging major food retailers to switch from the standard form of poultry slaughter, electric immobilization, to a less cruel method called "controlled-atmosphere killing" (CAK).
Electric-immobilization systems require that birds be handled and processed while they are still alive and conscious, which causes them great suffering. In the slaughterhouses of McDonald's U.S. and Canadian chicken suppliers, birds are dumped out of their transport crates and hung upside down in metal shackles, which can result in broken bones, extreme bruising, and hemorrhaging. Workers have the opportunity to abuse live birds, and birds have their throats cut while they are still conscious. Many birds are immersed in tanks of scalding-hot water while they are still alive and able to feel pain.
Traditional poultry slaughterhouses are dimly lit, stressful, filthy places, which results in poor conditions for workers and an extraordinarily high turnover rate: an annual average between 75 and 100 percent.
Controlled-atmosphere killing could eliminate many of the problems associated with electric immobilization slaughter. With CAK, oxygen is removed from the birds' atmosphere while they are still in their transport crates. The birds are not "gassed" (i.e., asphyxiated); they die from lack of oxygen, or anoxia, which is a painless process. Approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), CAK is currently used to kill 75 percent of turkeys and 25 percent of chickens in the U.K. and 10 percent of all birds in the European Union.
CAK eliminates the numerous animal welfare, economic, and worker-safety issues associated with electric immobilization. With CAK, birds are dead before they are even removed from their crates—there is no violent flapping of wings or defecation, the air is cleaner to breathe, and there is no opportunity for abuse by workers.
You can also write McDonalds and tell them how you feel.
2111 McDonald's Dr.
Oak Brook, IL 60523
- Vice President, Corporate Media Relations
- Sr. Director, Corporate Media Relations
- Sr. Manager, Corporate Media Relations
- Manager, Corporate Media Relations
- Administrative Coordinator, Corporate Media Relations
- Supervisor, Corporate Media Relations
- President of the United States
I was shocked to learn that McDonald's knows (through your own investigation and the experience that your European suppliers have) that controlled-atmosphere killing (CAK) could eliminate the worst abuses your chickens suffer, yet you refuse to require that your suppliers in the U.S. and in Canada adopt this slaughter method.
Please require your suppliers to switch to CAK immediately so that the birds they kill will no longer suffer broken limbs, abuse by workers, having their throats cut while they are still conscious, or being scalded to death in defeathering tanks.
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