People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA as they are better known, are no strangers to controversy. Whether it is dressing up Pam Anderson in nothing but lettuce, throwing red paint on thousand dollar coats or parading through the streets with giant pictures of slaughtered animals, PETA has been known to push people’s buttons.
In their latest campaign, the members of PETA are working to close down Kentucky Fried Chicken for what they call inhumane treatment of chickens.
Recently, PETA released video footage of the poor treatment of chickens on an Indian farm from which KFC purchases their meat. The video shows chickens’ beaks being burned off, deformities caused by genetic engineering, overcrowding of coops and overfeeding. KFC has said it holds fast to animal welfare standards, but Ingrid Newkirk, director of PETA, claims otherwise.
“KFC wants the public to believe that its chicken suppliers adhere to humane standards. This footage tells the real story,” Newkirk said. “Cruelty is the order of the day on KFC contract factory farms.”
According to PETA, over 800 million chickens are killed every year in hatcheries around the world. Many of these birds are genetically engineered for faster growth.
“These are the exact reasons why I refuse to eat at KFC,” UW sophomore Adam Spector said. “I think that since they treat those chickens with such disrespect, that any sane person would treat KFC with that same respect and not eat there.”
PETA asked for a meeting with KFC executives following the release of the video in order to work out better standards of welfare for the chickens. Their demands include killing the chickens with gas for a quicker death, larger coops for them to move and installing cameras in the warehouses to enforce humane treatment.
KFC is currently a worldwide chain serving over 11 million people in 80 countries. It posted bulletins on its website saying PETA’s accusations are false. Richard Lobb, a spokesperson for the National Chicken counsel said the practices shown in the video are outdated and no longer used.
“The beak-trimming machine shown in the PETA video is a ‘Lyons’ model used about 30 years ago,” Lobb said. “The system shown is no longer in common use in our industry”
PETA sticks by its claim that the video is an accurate portrayal of the farms and also claims that parts of the video are as recent as 1997. KFC, in association with YUM! Brand foods, formed the Animal Welfare Advisory Counselor a few years back, which consists of people regarded as experts in the field. These experts are devoted to providing information based on the scientific research they do regarding the animals.
PETA runs a variety of other campaigns, including those against animal experimentation, unfair hunting and fishing, use of animals for clothing such as leather or fur, and unfair treatment of circus animals.
Although he thinks KFC needs to do some rethinking of their chicken treatment methods, UW sophomore Adam Goldfab will still be eating there.
“I guess KFC needs to rethink how they treat their chickens — especially keeping dead chickens in the same coop as live chickens,” Goldfab said. “But it won’t keep me from eating there.”