Looking at the graph above we can see that Yum! Brands, the parent’s company of KFC are the third biggest firm in the fast food industry. By serving more than 12 million customers in 21000 stores in 109 countries every day, KFC has become the world most popular chicken fast food franchise. (1) However, over the past decade, KFC’s suppliers have been caught several time violating animal rights by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the world’s largest animal rights organization. KFC claims that all their suppliers are very well monitored and often inspected by the government; however PETA undercover investigations have proved otherwise. In 2007, 2 videos secretly recorded workers extremely violated animal rights in these slaughterhouses, showing some disturbing scenes. Although you may argue that KFC does not responsibility for the cruelty in the slaughterhouses, it has violates its own code of conduct, which will be discussed later in this report.
Besides, since KFC buys raw meat from these suppliers, they are partly support these slaughterhouses so it is also a part of their responsibility. The main purpose of this report is to show several violations which were caught by PETA investigation in 2007 and the possible solutions for this particular scandal. The investigation takes place in Tyson’s Georgia and Tennessee factories, one of KFC’s major suppliers. Within only 9 days of the investigation, many workers have been caught on videos abusing chickens. One of the most serious acts is workers urinating in the belts that transform birds to different areas in the slaughterhouse (2). And that is not the only thing they did. Chickens are thrown from a far distance to the conveyor belt. The workers at these slaughterhouses somehow found it an entertaining thing to do so the abuse was repeated again and again. They picked up chickens and throw them to the shackles.
Chickens are also found dead after trapping their body parts under a door at the end of the belt meaning the facility quality is not good enough. One of the examples is the blade which is supposed to cut chicken’s throat, cut the chicken’s body parts instead, and many of them also miss the blade. Therefore, when being transferred to the next stage of the production, which is going to the boiling tank, they are fully conscious. Moreover, workers are told by supervisors that it is acceptable to rip off thoselive chicken’s heads which are not cut properly. The problem here is, supervisors at both these slaughterhouses were involved with the abuse and aware of it but did not do anything to stop it from happening. Moreover, most of KFC claims on their website are inaccurate and go against their code of conduct (3): “Our suppliers work with primary breeders who provide poultry specifically selected with health and well being in mind.”
This statement is, however, false. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) discovered that KFC’s suppliers use drugs to help chickens to gain as much weight as possible in a short period of time. The effect of this is these chickens will suffer from diseases and injuries such as broken legs, heart attacks and other problems because they are overgrown.(4) “Prior to slaughter, birds are stunned so they are insensible to pain. … Chickens are stunned and killed before they are introduced into the defeathering tanks.”This statement is again not totally true. Although all the chickens are put in an electrified bath before being throat-slitting, the bath only makes them immobility not fully unconscious. Furthermore, as stated above, there are evidences that chickens completely miss the blade therefore they are still alive when being put in the scalding tank. According to USDA, there are nearly 3 million scalded alive chickens every year.(4) “KFC suppliers, KFC and the National Chicken Council have standards for stocking density to ensure birds have sufficient space and are healthy.
… The cleanliness of these facilities and the health of the birds are top priorities for the farmers.” Unfortunately, KFC suppliers actually do not have good facility to “ensure birds have sufficient space and healthy” like they stated. They are famous for raising chickens in a small area, as small as possible so they could cut down on cost. The wastes from chickens are not even cleaned up during their life time, again just to save cost. The effect of this is causing many health problems to chickens. One of the reasons why KFC and its suppliers are so careless is because according to the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, chickens are not protected. Farmed animals such as chickens, cows are also not covered by the Animal Welfare Act either.(4) Ever since the videos are published, many protests and campaigns have been taken place, causing dramatic impact on KFC’s stockholders. Activists, through the media, have made people aware of the problem and therefore most people decided to stop eating at KFC a sign of pro test.
There was a time KFC’s stock went down by 10% because of the scandal and this has made these stockholders, managers become more serious with the problem and come up with some solutions. Once of the few solutions that KFC could apply to fix the problem is to ask the suppliers to punish those who are responsible for the incidents. This includes the workers who abuse the chickens, the supervisors at these 2 facilities who completely ignored the abuse. The punishment will definitely set an example for other employees and supervisors at other supplier’s facilities. Moreover, they could install more cameras in the slaughterhouses to control worker’s act. Once a month, private investigators could be hired to make sure animal abuse will not happen again. This seems to be one of the most effective solutions since workers are in tighter control, it is very unlikely that they will violate the rules.
KFC, however, has to pay a little extra money each month to maintain the cameras and the cost of hiring private investigators. The reason why workers mistreat the chickens at these suppliers could be because they are not satisfied with their salary. This could be easily explained, firstly, since most of the suppliers will try to cut down cost as much as possible they are likely to reduce the wage rate to exploit workers. Since the demand for this type of job is high, it is workers who need the suppliers, not the other way round so employees will always feel like they are being exploited. Secondly, those farm suppliers are famous for their terrible working conditions, there is always a problem with hygiene and environment in the slaughterhouses. All the factors combined will cause workers to be easily frustrated and pass the angry to the chickens.
Therefore, the solution is KFC to force suppliers to improve wage rate and the working conditions. Once these have taken place, the rate of mistreating animals will definitely be reduced. Although, this solution seems to work in theory, it is unlikely to work in practice since it has too many disadvantages. They must spend a lot more each month to increase the salary for all workers in these suppliers. This might also set a bad habit for workers, treating chickens badly as a sign of protest to demand higher wages. In response to all the claims by PETA, KFC states on their website that PETA is actually a “radical extremist group” and their main purpose is to “promote a vegetarian health style” (3).
Because of this, PETA is unbiased and their claims are not totally correct and could be misleading. In addition to this, KFC has also ensured consumers that their chickens are bought from the same suppliers that provide raw meat to supermarkets and restaurants. Although in the real world they have no responsibility over the animal cruelty and abuse in those slaughterhouses, they did require suppliers to obey the law as well as animal welfare. In conclusion, we can see from the report that both KFC and PETA have different point of views, and they are both reasonable in their ways. However, the situation could have been much better if KFC took care of the scandal thoroughly as soon as possible so that the same mistake will not happen again in the future.
Courtney from Study Moose
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