230K signature petition delivered to USDA calling for protection of chickens

Boxes of 230,000 signatures for a petition calling for the protection of chickens were delivered to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Wednesday, March 7, 2018 (Scott Taylor, ABC7)

Mercy For Animals heads into the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to hand over 230,000 signatures demanding that chickens, turkeys and ducks be better protected before they end up on a plate.

Stephanie Wilson with Mercy For Animals says "We are actually bringing 230,000 signatures to the USDA supporting our petition to put into place simple common sense regulations to stop birds from literally being tortured to death."

The Humane Methods Slaughter Act, first approved in 1958, states livestock must be rendered insensible to pain.

Chickens, turkey's and ducks are not named in the Act.

The National Chicken Council who reps the Broiler Chicken Industry in Washington, D.C. says

"Chicken companies already have strong moral and financial motivation to ensure chickens are handled properly. Each chicken represents an investment by the processor, and mishandling chickens is not in a processor’s financial interest. Any abuse is not tolerated by the industry nor FSIS. This whole process is routinely audited internally, by customers and by independent third parties and monitored on a continuous basis by FSIS inspectors."

"Chicken slaughter is already regulated by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service under the Good Commercial Practices regulations of the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. These regulations address poultry slaughter, and government inspectors are present for the slaughter process in every poultry processing plant."

"The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act was written specifically for cattle and other red meat species – very large animals that must be handled in a certain way. It wasn’t designed to accommodate chicken. In fact, trying to shoehorn chicken harvesting into the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act could significantly compromise chicken welfare. It’s a square peg – round hole situation."

As with species subject to the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, all chickens are stunned and rendered senseless to pain before slaughter.

Mercy For Animals disagrees and has documented what they call abuse of chickens.

The I-Team contacted USDA which emailed: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) takes humane handling seriously. The Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) (21 U.S.C. 451 et seq.) and agency regulations require that live poultry must be handled in a manner that is consistent with good commercial practices, which means they should be treated humanely. FSIS received Mercy for Animals’ petition for poultry to be covered in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. The agency is currently reviewing the petition and will respond to the association once the review is complete.”

Stephanie Wilson with Mercy For Animals says "All we are asking is that the USDA require that birds be rendered unconscious and insensible to pain before they are killed for food. There are no federal regulations for humane handling of poultry. The PPIA addresses food safety only, and USDA inspectors have no meaningful enforcement authority when they see animal cruelty. I have seen the USDA’s own inspection records, and they are horrific. USDA inspectors have documented chickens being slashed across the face or the chest by the kill blade because they’ve been improperly hung, more than 100 chickens being scalded alive at a time, and bruised and battered bodies of birds being discarded because they’re unfit for food. But the fact that USDA inspectors are already in poultry slaughterhouses is another reason to grant our petition, which would simply empower USDA inspectors to take enforcement action when they see cruelty like this. But Agriculture Secretary Perdue and Deputy Administrator Carmen Rottenberg have so far refused to give them that authority.”

ABC 7 News took a look at the numbers and chicken is important to Americans. 35 million a week are killed by one of the largest suppliers in the nation and that same company only slaughters 130,000 cattle every week on average that eventually makes it into grocery stores.

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