Chicken slaughter is killing us

Chicken-carcassesThe U.S. Department of Agriculture recently denied a petition by the National Chicken Council to remove the line speed limit on how many chickens can killed per second in the slaughterhouse.

Some food safety advocates cheered at this, calling it a victory for workers and consumers, but we don’t think it’s that much of a victory. The current rate at which chickens can be killed is already ridiculously fast at 3 chickens per second, and accidents and injuries are already a concern.

No sooner had the move to speed up the line been denied, than the poultry industry was  asking for a waiver. The poultry industry said that removing the speed limit would have increased efficiency and modernized systems. That translates to increased injuries to slaughterhouse workers, who already have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, plus increased suffering to the chickens. It gets worse. A recent report by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch found that 30 percent of plants under the new system failed the performance standards for salmonella, which causes food poisoning. It’s clear that strict regulations are necessary, and if anything they should be even stronger.

The abuse at poultry slaughterhouses is something we’ve been keeping an eye on. We wrote previously about the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspections. Whether you care about the slaughterhouse workers, the risk of experiencing food poisoning, or the suffering of the animals themselves, the best way to minimize the harm caused is to go vegetarian. It has often been said that if slaughterhouse had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarians.