Activist group Compassion Over Killing (COK) conducted an undercover investigation of a chicken slaughter plant in Maryland owned by Perdue Farms that allegedly shows repeated violations of state anti-cruelty laws. Conducted during the last two weeks of September 2004, the investigation prompted a Perdue Farms veterinarian to deny that the evidence represents improper slaughtering. According to COK, "From the very first day our investigator worked, he saw animal cruelty on a regular basis." The group has provided evidence from the undercover investigation to local authorities and to executives at Yum! Brands, which owns the US-based fast food chain KFC. The activists say their 7-minute video demonstrates violations of Maryland's anti-cruelty laws, which calls for using "the most humane method reasonably available" when inflicting "necessary pain." COK also claims that the undercover investigator received no training related to animal care or handling, which appeared also to be true of the coworkers questioned by the investigator.
COK documented numerous alleged violations, including workers violently throwing birds, dying birds left unattended or on the ground outside, and birds "flapping violently after having their throats slit." According to the Perdue Farms veterinarian, "The motion observed by an activist who worked for two weeks at the plant is an involuntary muscle reaction that occurs after death." However, the same official went on to acknowledge that the undercover video showed some improper handling of birds, and admitted that "the very nature of meat processing is something some people may not be comfortable watching." Perdue Farms already had plans to close the Showell, Maryland plant in early November as part of a corporate restructuring program.
"Perdue Farms Refutes Abuse Allegations by Animal Rights Group," Meatingplace.com, 11/1/04 http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/init.asp?iID=13320
"Secret Video Leads To Perdue Suit," INCLUDES VIDEO, WJZ 13 / CBS News, 10/29/04
"Animal Rights Group Pursues Complaint against Perdue Farms," WBAL 11 / NBC News, 10/28/04
Details and video footage from Compassion Over Killing's investigation
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150