Every Chick?fil?A sandwich is filled with horrific animal abuse. A new Mercy for Animals undercover investigation at multiple Chick?fil?A suppliers reveals baby birds being violently slammed into transport crates and having their legs and wings broken before being electrocuted and then scalded alive.
In the video posted online, workers at the factory farm can be seen throwing chickens into transport crates, crushing the wings of some of the birds.
Other birds are shown with leg deformities that the activists say are the result of hormones designed to produce larger birds more quickly.
“This video shows very rough handling and throwing of chickens into transport modules,” Dr. Temple Grandin, a leading authority on livestock behavior, said in a statement provided by the animal welfare group. “This producer is doing a poor job of culling, and leaving leftover birds with no feed and water is cruelty. This farm has some serious problems that need to be corrected.”
At the slaughterhouse, birds can be seen missing the blade designed to quickly slit the animals’ throats, instead suffering cuts to their wings or chests.
“Thousands are still conscious and breathing when they go through the feather removal tanks and are scalded alive,” the video states.
It also accused workers at the slaughterhouse of actively trying to conceal vermin on the premises from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A spokesperson for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service told BuzzFeed News it “takes the humane handling and slaughter of animals very seriously.”
“The agency is assessing the situation to determine if there were any violations of applicable laws and regulations and will address them accordingly,” the spokesperson said.
Poultry are specifically excluded from the main piece of federal humane slaughtering regulation, and most states expressly exclude farm animals from animal cruelty legislation.
“There’s a strong argument to be made in light of our recent Chick-fil-A investigation that poultry should be included in the scope of federal protection,” Mercy for Animals’ general counsel Vandhana Bala told BuzzFeed News. “Most animals slaughtered in this country are poultry and they are just as entitled to humane treatment and the scope of legal protection as other farmed animals.”
The covert recording could very nearly have been illegal in Tennessee had state legislators been successful in attempts to pass so-called “Ag-Gag” laws that animal rights activists say are designed to block their efforts to expose cruelty using hidden cameras.
In 2013, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam vetoed a bill that would have required anyone who had recorded livestock abuse to report it first to law enforcement and turn over copies of the recordings.
Earlier this year, Tennessee outlawed the use of drones to capture images of property for surveillance. Some lawmakers had been attempting to include a section that would have introduced the offense of “surreptitious commercial surveillance.” The proposal had the support of the Tennessee Farm Bureau, but was ultimately removed from the final legislation.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director of the Humane Society of the United States, described the proposed offense as a “sneaky” insertion into the drone bill.