Nearly One Million Chickens and Turkeys Unintentionally Boiled Alive Each Year in U.S.

And new USDA proposals would mean even more inhumane treatment

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Fast-moving slaughter lines are cruelly killing foul, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture records. Nearly one million chickens and turkeys are unintentionally boiled alive every year in U.S. slaughterhouses. Often, the accidental deaths occur because fast-moving lines fail to kill birds before they are dropped into scalding water.

In slaughterhouses across the country, live birds are shackled by the legs and hung upside down before they are electrically stunned and automated blades slice off their necks, allowing the blood to drain from their bodies. If the birds’ necks miss the blade, they are boiled alive and cannot be sold because the blood remaining in the corpse can breed bacteria and turns the skin bright red. Animal welfare groups have lobbied slaughterhouses to switch to a more humane killing process, commonly used in the European Union,  which knocks birds unconscious using carbon dioxide or other gases.

With Thanksgiving approaching, more pain-filled poultry deaths are sure to come. The USDA is finalizing a proposal that will allow companies to accelerate their lines even more in order to remove pathogens from the food supply and increase efficiency. Rather than having a maximum line speed of 140 chickens per minute and 45 turkeys per minute, the line would move at a pace of 175 chickens per minute and 55 turkeys per minute.

A Washington Post article reports that government inspectors and experts say that the changes will only lead to further inhumane treatment.

[Washington Post]