Mercy For Animals has urged Aldi and other retailers to do more to protect chickens’ welfare
A new report has exposed how large retailers like Aldi have failed to meaningfully reduce chicken suffering.
Non-profit Mercy For Animals’ first US retailer report reveals the names of major retailers that are yet to meaningfully address welfare issues associated with chickens raised for meat.
Aldi ranks in the lowest tier of standard practices in the chicken industry.
Other names on the list include BJ’s Wholesale Club, Hy-Vee, Publix, Raley’s, Stater Bros. Markets, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Wegmans.
The list comes after an undercover investigation by the animal welfare charity uncovered the ‘heartbreaking’ reality of chickens at one of the contract farms supplying Aldi’s chain.
The footage captured days-old chicks suffering from severe open wounds and other serious injuries.
Other evidence revealed tens of thousand chickens crammed into filthy and overcrowded sheds, with the animals forced to stand in their own filth.
The horrific clips also showed sick and hurt live birds being thrown into buckets or onto dead piles to die in agony. Some were even crushed under the weight of the corpses tossed on top of them.
According to the charity, these unnatural conditions are common to all factory farms, where chickens are bred to grow unnaturally large over a short space of time. Moreover, as the chickens grow, the factory farm’s water and feed lines are raised. This means that injured, ill, and “runt” birds are unable to reach the new heights, and some die of dehydration when they can’t walk to water.
“Her humble need for water, unmet by a multibillion-dollar industry. A nickel-and-dime strategy to punish living beings for the industry sin of growing too slow,” an investigator summarizing the state of the helpless birds said.
In the UK an estimated 20 million chickens are slaughtered for the meat industry every week.
While Mercy For Animals’ footage is shocking, it’s not the only exposé to show the reality of the trade.
Last month, vegan chicken producer VFC exposed KFC’s claim, which the fast food giant presented in collaboration with YouTuber Niko Omilana in its short film called ‘Behind the Bucket’.
The film hosted on the news and entertainment website Joe indicated that KFC only sources chickens from farms that maintain high welfare standards for the birds with fresh straw, perches, and a reasonable amount of space.
VFC in its undercover investigation paid a follow-up visit to the same farm used in KFC’s promotional video. It witnessed scenes in direct contrast to what was projected in the video.
VFC found sodden straw with animal feces on the ground. It also reported plastic-wrapped bales, perches that were not accessible to the animals, dead birds strewn on the floor, and a number of untended sick and injured chickens.
Last year, UK’s leading vegan campaigning charity, Viva! released a damning exposé of farms supplying some of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains.
One of their investigations on a farm that supplies Aldi, Asda, Co-op, KFC, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose discovered numerous dead and decaying birds. They were being pecked by others due to a lack of adequate environmental enrichment. Others were found collapsed on the ammonia-rich litter that covers the shed floor with painful hock burns marking their raw skin.
Calls for Aldi to adopt meaningful animal welfare standards
Mercy for Animals has called on Aldi to adopt meaningful animal welfare standards to address the worst abuses permitted in their supply chain.
It also urged the retailer to join the other 200 companies that have adopted Better Chicken Commitment standards that ban some of the cruelest practices from their chicken supply chains.
“Mercy For Animals urges all supermarkets, grocers, and other food retailers to take decisive action to address the most pressing issues associated with chickens used for meat by publishing broiler chicken welfare policies that meet the minimum standards of the Better Chicken Commitment,” the charity said in its report.
On its Aldi Uncovered page, it added: “We can end this cruel, unsustainable system. By choosing plant-based foods, we can build a food system that is good for animals, people, and our planet.”
You can join the campaign for better chicken welfare standards here.
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