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Consumers Want Humanely Raised Chicken

05 September 2014

US - Consumers distrust the chicken industry and was more humanely raised chicken choices at the grocery store.

These are the major findings of a national survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as part of its national "Truth About Chicken" campaign.

The findings have been release as the poultry industry kicks off its annual month-long celebration of chicken this September.

In the US, chicken eclipses every other alternative as the most frequently eaten meat, with chicken consumption rising by 17 per cent last year, according to the National Chicken Council.

While a majority of Americans eat chicken, the newly released survey conducted by Edge Research, and commissioned by the ASPCA reveals that consumers are very concerned with how chickens are treated on the farm.

The ASPCA’s survey found that more than 80 per cent of respondents feel it is important that the chickens they eat be humanely raised. Yet, less than a third of respondents trust the companies that make chicken products to treat their chickens in a humane fashion.

Humane treatment of chickens raised for meat is more than just a moral imperative. Seventy-eight per cent of chicken consumers surveyed feel that raising chickens humanely leads to safer chicken products, and more than 75 per cent of chicken consumers surveyed wish there were more humanely-raised chicken options available at their local grocery stores.

"Concern for farm animal welfare is increasing – Americans want to know the chicken they eat has been raised in a humane environment, both for the birds’ sakes and for their own health," said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA.

"The more these concerns are raised, the closer we’ll come to a time when farm animals are not abused, nor our health potentially imperilled, in the name of cheaper dinners and higher profits."

The vast majority of the nearly 9 billion chickens raised for meat – or "broiler" chickens – each year in the US are kept in overcrowded, artificially-lit sheds and are selectively bred to grow to heavier weights faster than ever. As a consequence, many birds spend much of their lives lying in their own waste and unable to express natural behaviours.

These stressful, sickening conditions increase birds’ susceptibility to disease as well as the amount of contaminated fecal matter they carry to the slaughterhouse, which can raise the risk of foodborne illness reaching consumers.

Chicken already causes more foodborne illness than any other meat, and a 2006 study by university researchers, including those from University of Minnesota and Iowa State University, found that a one per cent increase in chicken illness could create a four per cent increase in human illness attributed to chicken.

Consolidation of the chicken industry has placed the production of chicken in the hands of a few large companies, resulting in very little variety in the type of chicken the average American can buy or order in a restaurant.

During National Chicken Month, the ASPCA is raising awareness about the serious issue of broiler chicken welfare and encouraging consumers to tell their grocers they want access to more humanely raised chicken options.


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