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Tell USDA to Ensure the Welfare of Chickens and Turkeys at Slaughter

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"Be the change you wish to see in the world" ~Mohandas Gandhi
"Our lives began and end the day we become silent things that matter" ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Originally Posted: May 20, 2012

Tell USDA to Ensure the Welfare of Chickens and Turkeys at Slaughter

FROM Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and United Poultry Concerns (UPC)]


If the U.S. Department of Agriculture does Not hear from people, they assume no one cares how chickens and turkeys are treated. Public silence could increase animal cruelty in the slaughter plants, where birds are not even covered by the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. So please: read this Animal Welfare Institute alert, and follow the easy instructions. Raise your voice – not for “food safety” of poultry products – but for the billions of innocent birds in U.S. slaughterhouses. Thank you for your act of compassion. United Poultry Concerns

Please go here to comment online:
Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection (Document ID FSIS-2011-0012-0903;D=FSIS-2011-0012-0903 


USDA is considering a change to its inspection system that monitors the slaughter of billions of chickens and millions of turkeys each year. The new regulation would decrease the number of inspectors on poultry slaughter lines, and allow the industry to increase its profits by speeding up the rate of slaughter. This change has the potential to seriously jeopardize the welfare of the birds being killed.

Nowhere in the 50-page notice announcing the new system is there any mention of the potential ramifications of the proposed change on the birds themselves. Fewer inspectors on the slaughter line means less opportunity for evidence of inhumane handling to be observed and stopped. Increased line speed poses a risk to bird welfare by giving workers less time to perform shackling, which can lead to an increase in painful injuries like bruises and fractures. Higher line speed also means that more birds may be inadequately stunned, resulting in an increase in birds entering the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tank where they are burned before drowning.

Please help AWI send USDA a message that the proposed rule should be rejected.


USDA is accepting public comments on its proposed poultry slaughter inspection plan until May 29. Please take a couple of minutes to write to USDA to encourage it to reject the rule change or delay its implementation until the impact on the chickens and turkeys being slaughtered can be addressed. You can submit comments here by (1) filling out the contact information (only complete the "required" fields on the contact information form and enter "citizen" in the Organization Name box), and (2) either entering your comments directly on the form or attaching a separate document.
To assist you, a sample comment is provided below. You may copy and paste our sample, but putting it in your own words will help give your comment more weight.

Sample Comment:

The impact of the poultry slaughter inspection proposal on the handling of live birds has not been studied. Increased line speed poses a risk to animal welfare by potentially increasing the incidence of injuries like bruises and fractures, and of birds dying in ways other than by prescribed methods of slaughter (e.g., being drowned in the scalding tank). Fewer USDA inspectors monitoring carcasses means less opportunity for signs that birds have been inhumanely handled to be detected and dealt with properly. The rule change must be rejected or, at a minimum, delayed until the issue of animal welfare can be adequately studied and any potential negative consequences addressed.


Karen Davis's Letter Re: Proposed Poultry Slaughter Plant Inspection System Changes
May 17, 2012

Attention: USDA-FSIS

Subject: Proposed Poultry Slaughter Plant Inspection System Changes
Commenter: United Poultry Concerns
Position of United Poultry Concerns: Opposition to the Proposed Changes

I am writing to you on behalf of United Poultry Concerns regarding your proposed poultry slaughter plant inspection system changes that would reduce the number of slaughter line inspectors and allow the industry to increase the rate of slaughter and police itself.

The concern of United Poultry Concerns is that fewer USDA inspectors and faster line speeds will increase the injuries and abuses sustained by chickens and turkeys in the slaughter plants. Fewer inspectors on the slaughter line make it more likely that inhumane handling will occur and be overlooked. Increased line speeds will force workers to shackle birds even more rapidly resulting in more birds enduring painful bruises, fractures, and being hung in a shackle by only one leg.

As you know, chickens and turkeys bred for meat production are extremely fragile birds who are easily wounded. They suffer from pathological conditions of their bones, joints and tendons. Increased line speed, fewer inspectors, and slaughter plant self-inspection will put these birds at even greater risk than they already experience of abusive treatment, excruciating pain and suffering. Since poultry are excluded from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the proposed changes to the inspection systems will put billions of chickens and turkeys in even worse circumstances.

For these reasons, United Poultry Concerns opposes the proposed changes. We support only such changes as would render the slaughter process less cruel and inhumane.

Thank you for your attention.

Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns (UPC)
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
(757) 678-7875 

Thank you for everything you do for animals!