“The single worst thing you can do to an animal emotionally is to make it feel afraid. Fear is so bad for animals I think it is worse than pain…Even an animal who’s completely alone and giving full expression to severe pain acts less incapacitated than an animal who’s scared…and an animal in a state of panic can’t function at all.”
– Temple Grandin, Animals in Translation
If there were not enough reasons already to not eat McDonald’s chicken nuggets, we can add horrible mistreatment of their farmed chickens to the list. Whether you are vegetarian or a meat-eater, this information concerns everyone, because it exposes inhumane treatment of animals resulting in unhealthy chickens.
The organization Mercy For Animals set up a camera into a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget supplier (seen delivered by a Tyson truck). What they discovered was nauseating: chickens were beaten, jammed into tight spaces, murdered by stabbing them with nails, and left to die slowly in suffering.
In the beginning of the video, you see the worker ask the undercover videographer not knowing he was recorded: “You don’t work for PETA, do you?” as he begins to stab a random chicken to death with a nail attached to a stick.
They know what they are doing is wrong.
As one point of the video, the worker says “You didn’t see that” as he hits more birds.
Another worker is shown holding one of the birds the first worker shoved in a bucket.
“This one here is still alive. You can see her blinking.”
The rest of the video shows issues of overcrowding, filthy living conditions ridden with bugs, sick birds, and birds with leg deformities (a common occurrence).
Watch the video for yourself. (Warning: graphic content).
Tyson’s Chicken Abuse History
The video by Mercy For Animals was posted in 2015, and Tyson has stated that they are looking into the issue and they are taking this “very seriously.”
Yet, in August 2016 another undercover video of Tyson’s factory (supplying McDonalds and KFC) recorded by Compassion Over Killing. In the video, we hear an eerily similar phase the farm worker says: “You can’t let nobody see.”
They know what they are doing is wrong.
In the video the worker is seen punching, kicking, throwing chickens; wringing their necks and running them over with forklifts; as well as “boning” them (sticking plastic rods through their beaks).
“They are not building a system to ensure animal welfare is a top priority. Or employee welfare,” said one worker.
Tyson again stated they are outraged and do not tolerate such treatment, and they have fired 10 workers over the issue, yet this keeps happening.
“We believe that Tyson as a company needs to be held accountable. This is too common of a problem being documented for Tyson’s to be pushing this aside as a few rogue workers or bad apples. This is a systemic problem,” Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing told USA TODAY.
Does This Happen Often?
Unfortunately, yes. Even though most people agree that animals deserve fair treatment and should be free to roam rather than confined to cages or tightly-packed warehouses, the majority of 10 billion farm animals raised annually in the U.S. live and die in conditions that are not acceptable, reported American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). This is because 99% of them are raised in large factory farms that focus on profit over morals and health safety.
The major issues are:
-Physical alterations such as de-beaking chickens (to prevent them from pecking)
-Neglect of suffering animals
-Abuse by factory workers
Are There Laws to Prevent This From Happening?
There are no federal laws that prevent animal mistreatment while on farms. There are also no federal laws that protect the poultry during transport and slaughterhouse treatment (these laws apply only to cattle). While a few states have anti-cruelty laws, there are rarely enforced.
Compassion for the Animals, Compassion for the Workers
Is it possible that factory workers are mistreating the animals partly because they are mistreated too? Psychologically, a person whose basic needs are not met is more likely to abuse others, especially those who cannot speak up and cannot fight back. While this in no way excuses the behavior, this is one issue that does not get enough coverage.
In the same factories that the chickens are being abused, the workers themselves suffer mistreatment, perpetuating this cycle.
And again, the main reason for this is profits — making the product as cheap as possible.
A report by Oxfam America exposes what industry workers go through while working. The workers are denied bathroom breaks with some literally having to rely on wearing diapers, and others denying themselves water in order to keep working. Poultry processing plants force workers to process 40 birds every minute with lobbyists pushing for even higher numbers.
“Workers urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security. And they are in danger of serious health problems. While they are laws that require the industry to provide good conditions for the workers, these laws are often get ignored,” states the report.
This worker mistreatment has been reported at Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms.
What We Can Do
It is undercover videos like the one by Mercy For Animals that raise consumer awareness and lead to companies slowly changing their policies for better animal treatment (and better conditions for the workers). There is still a lot of oversight, and the meat industry has a long way to go to achieve humane practices. As a consumer, it is our duty to boycott companies that are caught mistreating farmed animals, sign petitions for better regulations and spread the word to everyone.