Biden Administration Shuts Down Cruel Attempt to Speed Up Slaughter Lines for Chickens

Biden Administration Shuts Down Cruel Attempt to Speed Up Slaughter Lines for Chickens

In his first few days in office, President Joe Biden signed a number of executive orders, and one of them is a major win for chickens, who are one of the most abused animals on Earth. The new administration shut down a cruel proposed rule that would have allowed chicken slaughterhouses to drastically increase line speeds, which would have increased chickens’ suffering, threatened food safety and put workers at more risk of injuries.

Turning chickens from living beings to neatly packaged body parts we see on store shelves isn’t something that can be done by machines, and speed is of the essence for companies trying to turn a profit off their lives and deaths.

Unfortunately, faster line speeds at slaughterhouses mean more cruelty. At the current standard of a staggering 140 birds per minute, harried workers already have a hard time keeping up. This results in chickens being roughly slammed into shackles upside down by their feet, which can cause injuries to their fragile bodies and legs. After that, they’re supposed to go through a stun bath meant to immobilize them before their throats are slit, but many miss both the bath and the blade and are put in a scalding tank of water while they’re still fully alive and conscious.

In 2017, the National Chicken Council petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to waive limits on slaughter speeds at some plants, but after intense backlash from multiple stakeholders, including from In Defense of Animals supporters, the agency rejected it — only to later institute a new waiver system for slaughterhouses without notice, or giving the public an opportunity to comment.

Dozens of slaughterhouses were granted waivers and allowed to increase slaughter speeds to a mind-blowing 175 birds per minute. Last spring, just as the pandemic was taking hold here, a record number were granted even though it quickly became clear that slaughterhouses were hotspots for the spread of the novel coronavirus.

At the same time, the last administration was also working on a rule that would allow qualifying slaughterhouses across the country to do this too without a waiver. This change would have put billions of chickens at risk of even more suffering, threatened food safety and put workers at increased risk of injuries.

While many are still operating with these waivers, the Biden administration has withdrawn the proposed rule and existing waivers are facing a lawsuit that could revoke them.  

In the meantime, you can help by leaving the flesh of chickens off your plate. Chickens are incredible animals who deserve to live their lives free from harm, yet broiler chickens who are raised and killed for meat when they’re just a few weeks old suffer in unimaginable ways from the time they hatch to the time they’re slaughtered — regardless of how fast the kill line moves.

We shouldn’t be supporting companies that couldn’t make it more clear they care about nothing but their bottom line and are willing to put animal welfare and us at risk just to increase their profits.

For more on ways to help, check out our Farmed Animals campaign, and if you’re looking for ways to switch to a plant-based diet, or just for some new inspiration, download our free Veg Guide.

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