McDonald's to give chickens a more humane death

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The fast-food giant McDonald's has said that it is studying the possibility of "controlled atmosphere killing" in which chickens are gradually deprived of oxygen achieved through the use of an inert gas, such as nitrogen or argon.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a McDonald'd shareholder, a position which has allowed it to influence the decisions of world's largest buyer of beef and pork, and the world's second-largest buyer of chicken.

Most McDonald's chickens currently meet their end hung by their legs Chickens are hung upside-down with their legs snapped into metal shackles on a moving conveyor line and pulled through an electrified vat of water to stun them. PETA claim that despite this many are still fully conscious when their throats are slit and when they are immersed in scalding-hot water for feather removal.

The new technique is the least cruel method of slaughter available, according to PETA. Some of McDonald's European suppliers already use the newer method.

According to Bob Langert, McDonald's senior director of social responsibility, McDonald's animal welfare council suggested that a study of the newer method be carried out. "There has been very little study of this process as to impact on animal welfare,"​ he said. Results of the study will be published before the end of June 2005.

PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said he hoped other restaurants would follow McDonald's example and consider switching slaughter methods. PETA is currently seeking shareholder resolutions at Wendy's and Applebee's fast food chains and continues a long fought campaign against KFC.

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