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September 1, 2009

The HSUS Urges Tyson Foods to Reduce Suffering of Animals at its Slaughter Plants

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States filed a shareholder resolution encouraging Tyson Foods to begin offering some products from chickens killed by a higher-welfare slaughter system called controlled-atmosphere killing. The HSUS owns 750 shares of Tyson Foods stock.

The Springdale, Ark.-based corporation is the nation's second-largest poultry company, slaughtering more than 2 billion birds annually. Tyson's U.S. slaughterhouses kill chickens using a cruel and outdated method that involves shackling fully-conscious birds upside-down, electrically shocking them into paralysis, cutting their throats while they are conscious and sometimes even drowning them in tanks of scalding water.

Controlled-atmosphere killing would eliminate many of the abuses by killing the birds with a mixture of inert gases while they are still in their transport crates. The method is used widely in Europe and is becoming more popular in the United States. Many major poultry retailers — including Quiznos, Ruby Tuesday, Safeway, Harris Teeter, Winn-Dixie and Costco — have begun using poultry slaughtered by controlled-atmosphere killing. Others — including Burger King, Chipotle, Popeye's, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. — give purchasing preference to suppliers that switch to the method.

"Tyson should be doing more to reduce needless animal suffering," stated Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Factory Farming Campaign for The HSUS. "Moving toward controlled-atmosphere killing would improve the final minutes of the lives of billions of birds it kills each year."

A copy of The HSUS' shareholder resolution is available upon request.

Facts:

  • University of Georgia poultry scientist Bruce Webster, Ph.D., states that the current system used by Tyson "is a dinosaur." Meat industry advisor Temple Grandin, Ph.D., says that the U.S. poultry industry should move toward controlled-atmosphere killing.
  • In addition to reducing animal suffering, the method also improves meat quality, product yield and worker safety while reducing contamination.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — on the web at humanesociety.org.

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