July 08, 2003

KFC, Jason Alexander, Cruelty, PETA, and That Google Search "kfc tortures chickens"

Wow, how's that for an intro? I got the aforementioned hit yesterday afternoon at about 3:40 CST. Sorry I took so long to put up something relevant.

First, we have KFC's Animal (read: chicken - because mashed potatoes and biscuits aren't fauna) Welfare Policy.

Then, we have PETA and its lawsuit and a website dubbed KFC Cruelty.

And, because it wasn't interesting enough as it was, we have PETA nudging Jason Alexander out of his spokesperson role.

I bet all these things were what you were looking for, dude.

Now, what's the deal here? (Jason, you can go home now. Thanks. We're done discussing you). PETA, please sit in the corner and don't speak until addressed.

Let us drill down into KFC's website to the Poultry Welfare Guidelines (An Overview). This is obviously marketingspeak, as the "welfare" of the animal when it is delivered to KFC is, well, moot. But, the bit where it says it audits its suppliers, okay, I'll take heed now and pay attention to the presentation (below).
    1. General
    Supplier must have a documented program for animal welfare including a designated program leader, formal employee training, and a system of regular self-audits and recordkeeping. Corrective action for violations must be clearly stated and effective.

    Birds arriving at the plant must be clean and in good health. If audit reveals dirty or sick birds, corrective action at the grow-out house must be taken.

    2. Raising
    KFC prohibits its suppliers from using growth-promoting substances, and requires its suppliers to raise birds in clean chicken houses with appropriate space and proper ventilation.

    KFC prohibits suppliers from de-beaking any poultry that will be sold in our restaurants.

    3. Catching
    Birds arriving at the plant must be free of injury. KFC requires suppliers to implement an incentive program that rewards catching crews for minimizing injury if audit reveals that birds are being injured during the catching process.

    4. Transport
    Transport crates must be in good repair - i.e. no crate damage that would allow injury to birds or allow crates to accidentally open. Transport crates must not be over-filled and enough space must be provided to allow all birds to lie down.

    5. Holding
    Birds held in storage sheds must be provided adequate ventilation and climate control (fans/curtains).

    6. Stunning
    Stunning equipment must be maintained to ensure all birds are unconscious prior to slaughter, and the time between stunning and slaughter must be limited to ensure that no bird regains consciousness prior to slaughter.

    7. Humane Slaughter
    State of the art slaughter equipment must be properly maintained to ensure all birds are slaughtered quickly and without pain.
Okay - seven habits for highly effective bird growing and slaughter. And what does PETA have to say about this?

(From KFC Cruelty site

- A fisk of a fisk)
    What follows are actual quotes from, as displayed on January 1, 2003, shown in italics, coupled with PETA’s responses.

    Animal Treatment: Yum! Brands believes treating animals with care and respect is a key part of our quality assurance efforts. This means animals should be free from mistreatment at all times—from how they are raised and cared for to how they’re transported and processed. Our goal is to ensure an environment that’s free from cruelty, abuse and neglect.

    We challenge anyone to review the treatment of chickens that PETA is addressing, none of which can be denied by KFC, and suggest that KFC is not cruel to chickens. From hatching to slaughter, KFC’s chickens endure lives of unmitigated misery.

    The science is totally clear on all the issues that PETA has raised; not only is Yum! ignoring the latest research on gas killing of chickens, broiler breeders, and the other issues that we raise, it has also done absolutely nothing to improve the lives of any other animals who are killed for its restaurants (e.g., fish for Long John Silver, or cattle, pigs, and dairy cows for Taco Bell, A&W, and Pizza Hut). As the most glaring example from among many, the latest research is clear on gestation crates, which were recently banned by voter initiative in Florida because of their excessive cruelty, yet Yum! does nothing about them.

Okay. Hello? Weren't we talking about KFC and its suppliers? I'm certain we were. (Checking website name...yep!). And those "many examples" of which you spoke - show me. Defend, justify, and explain.

    Furthermore, cruelty to animals can be more subtle than overtly violent abuse. Denying animals the opportunity to act according to their natures can be even more cruel than harming them physically, and KFC denies chickens almost every natural desire and need—from foraging to dustbathing to forming reasonable social hierarchies (pecking orders).
Hmm - again, I thought we had issues with the suppliers. I assure you, there are not chickens running around Yum!'s corporate offices, and the only chickens to arrive through the store doors are quite assuredly dead, at which time they no longer have social hierarchies.

    Partnership: Yum! Brands partners with experts on our Animal Welfare Council and our suppliers to implement humane procedures/guidelines and to audit our suppliers to ensure the guidelines are being met.

    We challenge Yum! to name one—just one—procedure or guideline that it has implemented for the humane treatment of animals on farms or during transport. Animals spend the majority of their lives on farms, yet Yum! has not done a single thing to address the treatment of animals in that area. Yum!’s supposed “guidelines” address only the slaughterhouse, and even there they are woefully inadequate. The birds are dumped from crates, often breaking limbs, and their injured legs are snapped painfully into metal shackles. Animal welfare experts are in agreement that chickens are often conscious throughout the slaughter process, resulting in the tremendous suffering of millions from being shocked by machinery, having their throats cut, and being scalded alive. Yet Yum!’s guidelines protect birds from none of these abuses, and Yum! refuses to adopt the gas killing of birds, which would eliminate them all.
You know, I acutally asked a coworker how chickens are humanely killed on farms, and he said, "you wring their necks." Now, I'll argue that a slaughterhouse is most likely the saddest place in this country. I still don't see any direct examples of when these horrible injustices were perpetrated on birds 277 and 293. Where's the evidence, PETA?

    More than half of all chickens killed for KFC are consumed outside of the United States, yet KFC has not said a single thing about applying any animal welfare standards outside the U.S., despite the implication that its standards apply to all suppliers. Yum! also claims that its suppliers are being audited, but we ask whether a single audit has ever resulted in disciplinary action. If not, might the reason be that Yum!’s “standards” are, in fact, simply the same abusive status quo that has been in existence for years?
EVIDENCE! Please! I want to believe you - my bleeding-heart animal-loving self (yeah, I have some liberal components to my conservative nature) wants to believe that if an organization is going to claim outrage, it can logically back its claims. Sigh - mere rhetoric and a wimpy challenge.

    Performance Quantification & Follow-up: Yum! Brands’ animal welfare guidelines are specific and quantifiable. Yum! Brands measures performance against these guidelines through audits of our suppliers and ensures that all purchasing strategies are aligned with our commitment to animal welfare.

    If Yum! has “specific and quantifiable” guidelines, then why has no one ever seen them? This is Yum!’s most clearly duplicitous claim. Without written copies of these guidelines available to the public, how can Yum! expect anyone to believe that they exist? And again, what supplier has ever been sanctioned for violations?
Yeah, I know that tactic - it's called instill doubt with big, sweeping, general accusations.

    To assist us in [our] effort, Yum! Brands formed the Yum! Brands Animal Welfare Advisory Council, which consists of highly regarded experts in the field. The Council provides us with advice and recommendations based on key data and scientific research. It has been a key factor in formulating Yum! Brands animal welfare program. Members of our Council include: • Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State University • Dr. Ian Duncan, Dept. of Animal & Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Ontario • Dr. Joy Mench, Director of the Center for Animal Welfare, U. of Cal., Davis • Adele Douglass, Ex. Dir., Farm Animal Services, American Humane Association • Dr. Bruce Webster, The University of Georgia • Ellis Brunton, Senior VP of Science & Regulatory Affairs, Tyson Foods • Dr. Jim Ayres, Director of Research & Quality Assurance, Goldkist, Inc

    It is true that KFC has hired some people that PETA suggested, specifically Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Joy Mench, and Dr. Ian Duncan, as well as farmed-animal expert Adele Douglass, for its animal welfare panel. But even as Dr. Mench writes papers on the suffering of broiler breeders, KFC does nothing; even as Dr. Duncan discusses the inherent abuse of present slaughter methods, KFC does nothing, and so on. In two years, the panel has held three conference calls—not because the animal welfare panelists are unwilling to improve bird welfare, but more likely because KFC and the industry panelists are not willing.

    Ellis Brunton and. Jim Ayres work for the exploiters, not the reformers. One naysayer on any committee can slow or totally stifle progress. The inclusion on the panel of representatives of the chicken-killing industry—the very industry that has claimed, always, that no reform is required—shows that KFC’s efforts are not likely to move quickly or effectively. This has been borne out by 21 months of work resulting in less progress for chickens than has been achieved by McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s and no progress on decreasing suffering for any other animal.
More broad bushstrokes and naming names. I mean, come on, PETA, Yum! supplied the names for you, so don't hoot and holler that you actually got some objective evidence in a paragraph of your diatribe. Again, disappointing set of paragraphs if one is looking to substantiate a claim.

    Yum! Brands Animal Welfare Progress: Established the Yum! Brands Animal Welfare Advisory Council to help formalize our animal welfare program. The Council, which consists of leading scientists and academics in the field of animal welfare, works with Yum! Brands and its suppliers to ensure our practices are aligned with the latest research and thinking in the field of animal welfare.

    As discussed above, the science is totally clear on all the issues that PETA has raised; not only is Yum! ignoring the latest research on gas killing of chickens, broiler breeders, and the other issues that we have addressed, it has also done nothing to improve the lives of fish for Long John Silver or cattle, pigs, and dairy cows for Taco Bell, A&W, and Pizza Hut. As the most glaring example, the latest research is clear on gestation crates, which were recently banned by voter initiative in Florida because of their excessive cruelty, yet Yum! does nothing about them. The company is ignoring, rather than aligning its practices with, the latest research and thinking in the field of animal welfare.
Damn! There it is again! Reductio ad absurdum! Were we not discussing chicken? The perils of copy...paste.

It's a lot of blah blah blah from here.

I'm certain PETA has some valid claims - after all, in the scheme of things, mass produced dinner animals probably have short, rotten, painful lives. It's too bad PETA can't synthesize the reality from the rhetoric into a stronger argument that rational America could digest and perhaps rally behind.

Incidentally, and off topic, I took a graduate class in Persuasive Attack and Defense. What we have here is PETA issuing a kategoria, an attack. Theoretically, if this attack actually damages KFC's reputation (in the company's eyes), what will take place next is the Image Restoration stage, strategies of which include denial, evading responsibility, reducing offensiveness, corrective action, and mortification (asking for forgiveness), or any mixture of these. KFC can also attack its accuser, shift the blame, focus on other issues, or redefine the attack. Glad I kept Dr. Benoit's book, Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies for handy reference in times like these. (And, of course, I'm horribly oversimplifying).


Posted by hln at July 8, 2003 09:32 PM | PETA!