14 for ’14: ICYMI, Chickens Had A Big Year!

December 26, 2014

Our feathered friends made headlines all year long, from exposés of industry conditions to companies feeling consumer pressure to improve their practices. We’re proud of the part we’ve played in this movement and grateful to you for raising your voice on behalf of the billions of chickens raised each year in this country. Stay tuned in 2015 as we roll out exciting new ways to be involved in the Truth About Chicken. Together we can make a big difference in these animals’ lives!

Here are 14 of the year’s biggest chicken-related stories:

  1. What does it take to make a chicken empire? (February)
    In his book The Meat Racket, journalist Christopher Leonard exposed the business practices that allowed Tyson to reshape and dominate the chicken industry.
  2. Chickens buried alive (June)
    Animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing® investigated a Pilgrim’s Corp. chicken farm and found crowding, open wounds, lameness, chickens with mangled legs and workers burying sick birds alive in pits.
  3. Poultry inspections at the speed of light (well, almost) (July)
    A proposed USDA rule would have increased chicken slaughter inspections to a superhuman rate of three birds per second. Concerned workers’ rights, animal welfare and food safety groups prevented its passage.
  4. Chicken causes 29-state outbreak of drug-resistant Salmonella (March 2013-July 2014)
    An outbreak of Salmonella poisoning from Foster Farms chicken lasted almost a year, infecting 634 people in 29 states. Worse still, the strains of Salmonella were resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics.
  5. Tainted meat in China (July)
    A chicken processor supplying McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Burger King, and KFC restaurants in China found itself at the center of a scandal when a video surfaced showing workers repackaging expired meat and doctoring food-production dates.
  6. Our dish of choice...chicken in chlorine sauce? (August)
    Europeans are so opposed to the common U.S. practice of bathing chicken carcasses in chlorine to kill bacteria that it became a sticking point in August negotiations over a free trade deal between the U.S. and Europe.
  7. Nestlé gets nicer to farm animals (August)
    Nestlé announced an industry-leading animal welfare program that will eliminate many inhumane but standard practices within its food supply chain, including raising fast-growing chickens for meat.
  8. ASPCA survey shows consumers want more humanely raised chicken (September)
    78% of chicken consumers said that raising chickens humanely leads to safer chicken products and more than 75% wish there were more humanely raised chicken options available in their stores.
  9. A study on giant chickens freaked people out (October)
    A photograph in Poultry Science comparing modern chickens to those of the 1950s went viral. The underlying study detailed health problems facing today’s genetically manipulated birds, which include bone, heart, and immune system issues.
  10. Consumer demand drives big chicken companies to drop the drugs (October)
    Tyson Foods and Perdue announced that they will no longer use antibiotics in their chicken hatcheries. It is industry practice to inject drugs into eggs and add it to feed to prevent diseases caused by the filthy conditions on factory farms.
  11. Dirty birds in the UK (November)
    Scandal hit the British poultry industry when 8 out of 10 pieces of UK chicken sampled were found to be contaminated with Campylobacter, a strain of bacteria that causes food poisoning.
  12. Horrendous conditions at a Koch Foods supplier exposed (November)
    Mercy for Animals (MFA) released footage from a Koch Foods supplier farm showing filthy, crowded sheds, violent abuse of birds during catching and slaughter, and birds boiled alive rather than stunned properly. MFA alleges that the farm supplies Chick-fil-A, but the chicken restaurant denies having done business with Koch since spring 2013.
  13. One Perdue farmer speaks out (December)
    A Perdue contract farmer, Craig Watts, opened his doors to Compassion in World Farming to expose the inhumane conditions Perdue requires of farmers, as well as the welfare consequences of intense, selective breeding for growth.
  14. The hug felt ‘round the world (April)
    In the face of a lot of depressing news, almost 2 million people watched a chicken hug it out with a sweet little boy.