On May 12, FRONTLINE aired “The Trouble with Chicken,” an investigation into an outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg at one of the nation’s largest poultry processors. With chicken consumption at an all-time high and more severe illnesses stemming from this product than any other meat, the hour-long PBS documentary questioned why our food safety system is not doing more to prevent these dangerous infections.
The most effective way out of this vicious cycle is to go to the source of the problem: sickening environments and sick animals. In a HuffPost Live conversation with Frontline Correspondent David Hoffman, the ASPCA’s Senior Manager of Farm Animal Welfare, Daisy Freund, stated, “when you’re talking about food safety, we have to go back to the farms and talk about how these animals are living.”
Chickens today are raised in crowded, barren, windowless sheds where disease can run rampant, and are bred to grow four times faster than they did sixty years ago. As long as chickens are raised in such unhealthy factory farm environments, they will continue to suffer and pose serious risks to consumers from foodborne illnesses.
The FRONTLINE documentary shows that federal agencies tasked with protecting the public are hampered by a culture that defers to industry and takes a reactive approach to addressing these issues. That is why the ASPCA is calling on advocates who care about animal welfare and consumer safety to demand better from the chicken industry through our Truth About Chicken campaign.
Last Tuesday the ASPCA’s farm animal welfare campaign testified to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the committee that advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on its Organic rules.
The ASPCA asked the Board to examine the problem of fast, unhealthy growth among USDA Organic birds raised for meat (“broiler” chickens and turkeys). Like conventionally raised birds, most organic birds are bred for unsustainable growth that causes massive suffering (including difficulty standing and walking). You can read more on our Truth About Chicken website, which shines a spotlight on these horrendous and largely hidden problems.
The USDA looks to the NOSB for suggestions on how to improve to its rules, so it is critical that the NOSB encourages the USDA to restrict the use of fast-growing, unhealthy birds.
In the coming months, we will need your help in urging the NOSB to act. If you join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, we will let you know as soon as those opportunities arise. In the meantime, please spread the word about the need for better standards for USDA Organic animals!
Yesterday Tyson Foods, Inc. announced that it will phase out the practice of feeding antibiotics to the broiler chickens it produces when those antibiotics are also used for human medicine. Tyson joins other companies including Perdue, McDonald's, and Chick-fil-A that have recently made similar statements.
While it is great that companies are responding to consumer concerns about the very real public health issue of drug resistance, removing antibiotics without improving living conditions on farms is like taking off a bandage and leaving an open wound exposed.
Chicken companies have relied on antibiotics to counteract the disease that runs rampant in today’s crowded, filthy industrial farms. Bred to grow four times as fast as chickens grew 60 years ago, today’s chickens have weak immune systems, suffer from high rates of lameness and often spend most of their lives lying in their own waste. Removing antibiotics without addressing these animal welfare issues leaves animals vulnerable to disease and could increase consumers’ exposure to foodborne bacteria.
That is why the ASPCA has joined the Center for Food Safety to call on the chicken industry to fulfill its responsibility to consumers and animals by providing more space, better sanitation and lower stress for birds in tandem with this reduction of antibiotics. Consumers are demanding not just safer products but higher animal welfare on industrial farms, and the two are inextricably linked. If you want to demand more humanely raised chicken where you shop, fill out our supermarket request card today!
Do you wonder what happens on the farms that produce your food? Do you believe you have a right to know how animals raised for food are treated?
In the last few years, the farm industry has been driving the introduction of "ag-gag" or “whistleblower suppression” bills in state legislatures across the country. The purpose of these bills is to criminalize acts related to investigating the day-to-day activities of industrial farms, including the recording, possession or distribution of photos, video and/or audio at a farm. Such investigations have previously formed the basis of animal cruelty prosecutions and spurred reforms to protect the safety of our food supply.
If you want to know how ag-gag laws affect animals and consumers like you, join us and our panel of experts for our #OpenTheBarns Twitter chat on Thursday, April 23 from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. ET to have your questions answered. Just follow the hashtag #OpenTheBarns and include it in your tweeted questions to have them answered!
Daisy Freund, Sr. Manager, Farm Animal Welfare, ASPCA Kendra Kimbirauskas, Chief Executive Officer, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project Cody Carlson, former undercover investigator, Humane Society of the United States & Mercy for Animals Patty Lovera, Assistant Director, Food and Water Watch
We’ll be discussing the dangers of ag-gag laws, how they impact animals and consumers alike, as well as what you can do to stop them in your state!
At the ASPCA, we believe that all animals deserve to be protected under the law—and we’re thrilled to announce that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey agrees!
In a strong message to the industrial agriculture lobby, Governor Ducey issued his first-ever veto on H.B. 2150, a dangerous bill intended to roll back protections for farm animals—which, in Arizona, includes horses—by removing them from the state’s cruelty code and placing them in a separate section of law with weaker protections. If enacted, this bill would have also stripped municipalities of their abilities to pass stronger animal welfare and food safety standards, and could have impeded law enforcement from investigating animal abuse.
The veto comes at the heels of the ASPCA’s recently launched #OpenTheBarns campaign, a rallying cry for advocates to share their reasons to “open the barns” and protect the public’s right to know what is happening on America’s farms.
The ASPCA thanks Governor Ducey for honoring his commitment to animal welfare and standing with Arizona’s citizens by affirming that every animal deserves protection.
If you’re an Arizona resident, please call Governor Ducey’s office in Phoenix at (602) 542-4331 or visit our Advocacy Center to thank him for vetoing this bill.
Not an Arizona resident? Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to get important updates on animal-welfare-related legislation and how you can make a difference for the animals in your state.