Holding up graphic pictures of scalded chickens and with two of its members crammed into a tank of "bloody" water (Hawaiian Punch), the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) demonstrated outside a Louisville KFC restaurant today to protest what it calls the abusive treatment of chickens in slaughterhouses that supply the fast-foot chain.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, every year millions of birds are immersed in tanks of scalding hot water that are intended to remove the birds' feathers after they are dead. According to PETA, the voltage used to paralyze the birds before slaughter usually leaves them conscious.
Nicole Matthews, a spokeswoman for PETA, tells LEO Weekly the problem is that many of the chickens are still alive when they are scalded to death. She says PETA is focusing on Louisville in the hopes that KFC executives will be responsive to their recommendations, and she expects demonstrations will continue and escalate in the coming weeks.
"We're heating things up to help customers see exactly how cold-hearted KFC is when it comes to chickens," Matthews says. "People flock to other restaurants when they learn that KFC is too cheap to make basic changes that would prevent birds from being scalded to death."
About seven members of the animal rights group stood in front of the KFC at 1004 Bardstown Road holding up large pictures of scalded and mutilated chickens. Known for their audacious demonstrations, the call to boycott the restaurant gained a few supportive cheers from onlookers and honks from passing cars, however, many others stopped traffic to yell "Get a job!" or "I love KFC" to the protestors.
"We got a laugh out of the whole idea," says Jeremy Snyder, the manager at KFC, who tells LEO the corporate office gave him a heads up about today's protest. "They're trying to show everyone we torture chickens, I guess. Really, it is their own opinion, their own judgment. If they don't like the way we treat chickens it really doesn’t matter."
The Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act was passed in 1958 to protect animals during slaughter. The law requires that the animals be stunned into unconsciousness to ensure a quick, relatively painless death. Matthews says the federal law does not apply to poultry.
"The animals that people eat do not need to be slaughtered in inhumane ways," Matthews says. "We have new technologies for KFC to implement. They've said it only costs about 2 cents more per meal. People everywhere are recognizing that KFC stands for cruelty," she says. (PB)
KFC spokesman Rick Maynard sent LEO Weekly the following statement.
"KFC is committed to the well-being and humane treatment of chickens. We're proud of our responsible, industry-leading animal welfare guidelines. We buy our quality chickens from the same trusted brands that consumers buy in local supermarkets.
While we don't own any poultry facilities, we require all of our suppliers to follow welfare guidelines developed by us with leading experts on our Animal Welfare Advisory Council.
We don't comment on PETA's activities and publicity stunts, which speak for themselves."