COK & Coalition Oppose Chicken Industry’s Dangerous Plan to Increase Line Speeds

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Compassion Over Killing (COK) has voiced grave concerns to the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) over the chicken industry’s proposal to increase already dangerously fast slaughter line speeds and urged thousands of supporters to submit comments to the federal agency.

Today, along with a coalition of animal welfare, food and consumer safety, and worker rights organizations, we’ve announced that more than 82,000 consumers have raised their voices.

Along with submitting a comment with other animal welfare groups in September, COK has now submitted a new comment to the USDA opposing the National Chicken Council’s proposal, stating, “Investigations, whistleblower reports, and [the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s] own records reveal that animal suffering is already rampant in poultry slaughterhouses, even at current line speeds of up to 140 or, in certain rare cases, 175 birds per minute.”

This fast pace means that birds are routinely injured and improperly shackled, and many end up entering the scalding tank alive.

A 2015 Compassion Over Killing investigation inside Mountaire Farms revealed that live birds were tossed into piles with the dead as workers performed split-second checks of their condition; birds who had fallen on the ground were thrown across the room instead of being carried back to the conveyor belt; and birds had their heads caught in the shackles or were shackled by only one leg.

These atrocities occurred because workers were forced to rush to keep up with the fast pace — and if poultry line speeds are increased, workers as well as animals will suffer. As COK’s comment to the USDA warns, “workers operating at current line speeds already face high risks of injury.”

A new Government Accountability Office report has found that employees in factory farms and slaughterhouses, working in a fast “assembly-line environment,” are being denied bathroom breaks.The GAO report also declared, “Meat and poultry slaughter and processing is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States.”

Earlier this year, a National Employment Law Project (NELP) report tracking severe workplace injuries found that “the number of incidents reported by the meat and poultry processing industry is startling.”

Major poultry producers were among the NELP’s list of companies with the highest number of reported injuries, including, at #4, Tyson Foods — the nation’s largest chicken producer. 

A former Tyson Foods employee has also spoken out against the proposed line speed increase, saying “People struggle to work as fast as they ask us to work,” and that the pain of the fast pace remains with her. “My fingers still hurt from that and sometimes my fingers still cramp up because of how fast we were made to work on the lines.”

Just last week, a COK investigation exposed egregious animal cruelty, and the painful effects of genetic manipulation for rapid growth, at a factory farm supplying Tyson. Watch and learn more.

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