PETA Targets Grocery Chain over Slaughter Method

US - Welfare campaigning group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is now urging Supervalu in the US to buy its chickens and turkeys from suppliers who use what it calls 'controlled atmosphere killing'.
calendar icon 25 June 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

A PETA representative is to present a statement to Supervalu today asking the Eden Prairie-based grocery chain to give purchasing preference to poultry suppliers that use a less cruel method of poultry slaughter called 'controlled-atmosphere killing' (CAK).

A PETA press release says that Supervalu, which lags behind several competitors that have already moved toward CAK, is one of the largest grocery chains in the country, reporting $44.6 billion in net sales for the 2009 fiscal year. It operates more than 2,500 stores and serves approximately 5,000 other retail end points. Supervalu conducts its retail operations under several names, including Albertsons, Farm Fresh, Save-A-Lot, Shaw's Supermarkets, and Shop 'n Save.

Currently, PETA says chickens and turkeys killed for Supervalu are dumped onto conveyors and hung upside down by their legs in metal shackles, a procedure that often causes them to suffer broken bones. The birds' heads are run through electrified baths that give them painful shocks but don't make them insensible to pain. The birds are still conscious when their throats are cut, and many birds are scalded to death in defeathering tanks.

In CAK, the oxygen that chickens and turkeys breathe is slowly replaced with inert, non-poisonous gases such as argon and nitrogen, putting the birds 'to sleep' quickly and painlessly. Studies conclude that CAK is the least cruel form of poultry slaughter and also reduces labor costs, improves working conditions, increases meat yield and quality, and reduces the potential for contamination.

Grocery chains Safeway, Winn-Dixie, and Harris Teeter as well as restaurant chains Burger King, Carl's Jr., Hardee's, and Wendy's now give purchasing preference or consideration to suppliers that use CAK.

"The way that Supervalu's suppliers treat birds could warrant felony cruelty-to-animals charges if the victims were dogs or cats," says PETA Executive Vice President, Tracy Reiman. "Consumers care about animal welfare, so the last thing that the company needs is to be associated with animal abuse."

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