Arrowsight, a third-party company, will independently monitor video streams from 33 Tyson Foods poultry plants to prevent animal abuse. Data analytics will play a part too, with livestock handling practices analysed and regularly fed back to factory managers to improve company-wide animal welfare standards.
Controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) will be trailed at two Tyson Foods factories within the next 12 months. CAS is a form of humane slaughter that uses carbon dioxide to knock chickens out before they are killed.
Tyson Foods will also hire animal wellbeing specialists across beef, pork and poultry operations – a first for a US meat business, according to the company. Research on house lighting and how enrichment objects, such as perches, can be used to improve bird welfare are also underway.
Animal welfare ‘top priority’
Justin Whitmore, the recently-appointed chief sustainability officer at Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, said animal welfare was core to its “broader sustainability journey” to deliver healthier food, healthier animals and reduce environmental impact.
The National Chicken Council told this site the wider industry was committed to animal welfare. “Animal welfare is a top priority for all of our members,” a spokesperson said. “Without proper animal care and healthy birds, our members wouldn’t be in business. In addition, farmers’ pay cheques depend on the wellbeing of the birds, so they want to do everything possible to make sure the chickens are healthy and thriving.”
However, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) – which has called for the meat industry to adopt CAS – was short on praise for Tyson Foods.
“Controlled-atmosphere stunning, video cameras and human monitors have the potential to eliminate some of the worst abuses that chickens endure, but it’s clear that today’s consumers want more than a reduction in suffering—they don’t want to support cruelty to animals at all,” it said in a statement. “A wiser step than attempting to film atrocities would be for Tyson to focus on investing in Beyond Meat and other innovative vegan companies.”