The US Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has rejected a chicken industry proposal to allow for the increase of already dangerously fast slaughter line speeds.
In December, Compassion Over Killing submitted a comment to the USDA voicing our grave concerns over the National Chicken Council’s proposal. We had also submitted an initial comment in September as part of a coalition that includes animal welfare organizations.
After urging the public to join us in submitting comments, the coalition announced that more than 82,000 consumers had spoken out! In all, the government received more than 100,000 comments on this petition, vastly more than what agency proposed rules usually receive.
While the USDA’s rejection of this dangerous petition is a welcomed decision, this high-speed slaughter issue, and the concerns it raises for animals, workers, and consumers, is far from over as the federal agency has stated that it will still consider requests for individual waivers allowing slaughter plants to operate at faster speeds.
As COK wrote in our comment to the USDA, “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.”
At this staggeringly fast pace, birds are often injured, improperly shackled, and may even end up entering the scalding tank alive.
In 2015, heartbreaking video filmed by a COK investigator working inside Mountaire Farms exposed the horrors that many chickens are already enduring at current line speeds, revealing:
- live birds tossed into piles with the dead as workers performed split-second checks of their condition
- birds who had fallen off the conveyor belt being thrown across the room
- birds with their heads caught in shackles or being shackled by only one leg
- and more…
Workers are forced to take inhumane shortcuts to keep up with line speeds, jeopardizing their own safety as well as animal welfare. In fact, a 2017 workplace injuries report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) ranked major poultry producers, including Tyson Foods, among the companies with the highest number of reported injuries — including amputations and hospitalizations. Investigations by Compassion Over Killing and others have repeatedly exposed animal cruelty in Tyson’s supply chain.
As the USDA’s FSIS has just rejected the industry’s proposal to broadly allow increased poultry line speeds, the agency is now also considering a similar and equally controversial high-speed pig slaughter system, initially known as “HIMP.” A proposed rule, misleadingly titled “Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection,” is expected to open tomorrow for public comments.
A Compassion Over Killing investigation inside Quality Pork Processors, one of the fastest slaughter plants in the nation operating under the pilot program, revealed egregious cruelty and food safety concerns.
There is still time to speak out for pigs and help put the brakes on high-speed slaughter: Sign & share our today! Help us reach a quarter million signatures, soon to be personally delivered to the USDA by former COK investigator, Scott David, who witnessed these atrocities firsthand.