HSUS asks feds to investigate Pilgrim’s Pride’s misleading claims about its chickens

By on December 12, 2018 with 5 Comments

Today, the Humane Society of the United States asked the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency charged with protecting consumers, to investigate allegedly deceptive marketing claims made by Pilgrim’s Pride, the second largest chicken producer in the United States, which wrongly leads consumers to believe the company treats its chickens better than other chicken producers.

Last year, an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States exposed extreme animal suffering at chicken production and slaughtering facilities connected to Pilgrim’s Pride. In the year since, the company has failed to make any significant changes to improve the lives of more than a billion chickens its facilities produce each year. But Pilgrim’s Pride continues to use deceptive marketing tactics, telling consumers that it not only treats chickens humanely, but that it treats them “as humanely as possible.”

As surveys show, no reasonable consumer thinks it is humane to use chickens bred to grow so large so fast that they suffer crippling and even fatal injuries—abuses our investigator uncovered at a Pilgrim’s Pride facility. Nor does the average consumer find it humane to drag the animals through scalding water while fully conscious.

Factory farm interests have a long history of misleading consumers about the cruelty involved in raising animals to produce meat, eggs and dairy products, and for our part, we have a long track record of exposing such “humane-washing” deceptions and taking action to stop it.

In the United States, chickens raised for meat are the most abused of all farm animals. Roughly nine billion birds are slaughtered every year in our country, and the vast majority of them suffer intensely due to widespread industry practices that ruthlessly boost profits while imposing terrible cruelty and suffering upon the birds.

The HSUS’s two recent undercover investigations, along with whistleblower accounts revealing harsh conditions at the facilities where the chicken are raised, and U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports indicating inhumane slaughter practices, show that Pilgrim’s Pride’s preferred methods of production systemically harm the chickens in its care.

At one of the company’s contract farm facilities, our investigator documented cruelties caused by raising unnaturally fast-growing birds in extremely cramped conditions, leading to crippling leg deformities. At times, the birds are so heavy they could do nothing but collapse on the manure covered floor of the windowless warehouses they were crammed into.

At slaughter, federal inspection records show birds were ineffectively rendered unconscious by electrified stun baths which can cause chickens to be cut or scalded while conscious – a tragedy that happens so often the industry has a slang term for these unfortunate animals: “red birds.”

Because Pilgrim’s Pride controls essentially every aspect of the lives of its chickens, from birth to slaughter, the cruelties that we, and others, uncovered are very likely not isolated.

There are certainly more humane methods available to Pilgrim’s Pride, and the company should adopt them if it wants to accurately claim that its birds are “raised, transported and processed as humanely as possible.” For instance, the HSUS, along with Compassion in World Farming and Mercy For Animals – recently worked with a Pilgrim’s Pride competitor, Perdue Farms. The company considered and ultimately agreed to make many animal welfare improvements, including raising slower growing chickens who have fewer animal welfare problems than their fast-growing counterparts.

Instead of electrified stun baths, Pilgrim’s Pride could use controlled-atmosphere stunning systems that work by using a mixture of gasses to render birds unconscious before they are removed from their transport crates. This system eliminates the suffering associated with dumping, handling and shackling live birds.

Consumers care deeply about the welfare of animals raised for food and rely on advertising and marketing claims to identify animal products that they consider to be more ethically produced. We urge the FTC to take action to protect millions of conscientious consumers who are now being misled by Pilgrim’s Pride into thinking they are purchasing chicken that was humanely produced when all the evidence points to the contrary.

Categories
Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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5 Comments

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  1. Laurie Powell says:

    Thank you for helping the animals being tortured by the food industry in order to reduce their suffering at this point in history. Our ultimate goal as a species should not be to “treat other species better” as we use them, but rather not to use them all. There is no need to breed, stress, kill, and consume animals when a whole food, plant-based diet supports long life and optimal health in most humans. It is a diet of kindness, which is a value most people share. https://soundcloud.com/laurie-powell-121440892/love-the-animals-12118

  2. Jenn says:

    That photo was horrific and made me hurt for the poor chickens ! I will Never buy from this company, not that I ever did. This facility should be shut down immediately and they ought to be prosecuted for their treatment of the birds. There is no excuse for this….None. I can’t believe what these facilities get away with…..No more.
    Please stand up to this and fight it until they are closed down and in jail!

  3. Sharon Shelby says:

    Pilgrims Pride in Mt. Pleasant,Tx.was always known by locals for their inhumane killing,..and also in hiring HUNDREDS of ILLEGAL ALIENS hurting so many jobs for Americans there.

  4. Farming 101 says:

    I grew up on a farm and raising chickens was for only one thing, eating them and collecting eggs.. The 3main Way’s to kill them, Knock them in the head either against a tree or with a hammer or 2×4. Put it on a Tree stump and use a hatchet to cut off the heads,actually wringing their necks, or a broomstick to the neck by laying them on the ground, standing on the stick and pulling their heads off..and let them flip around till they died. Survival not inhumane…

  5. Farming 101 says:

    I grew up on a farm and raising chickens was for only one thing, eating them and collecting eggs.. The 3main Way’s to kill them, Knock them in the head either against a tree or with a hammer or 2×4. Put it on a Tree stump and use a hatchet to cut off the heads,actually wringing their necks, or a broomstick to the neck by laying them on the ground, standing on the stick and pulling their heads off..and let them flip around till they died. Survival, not inhumane…

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