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Rats are the least of KFC's problems--and other chicken operations

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Long before customers slapped "Kentucky Fried Rats" and "Rats. It's what's for dinner" signs on the door of the shuttered KFC/Taco Bell in New York City last month, PETA said there's something rotten at KFC.

Employees at a Pilgrim's Pride plant in Moorefield, West Virginia--a KFC supplier--were videotaped stomping, kicking and slamming chickens against walls with impunity leading to the current PETA boycott of KFC supported by Pam Anderson and Al Sharpton.

Another group, Compassion Over Killing, found similar abuses at a Perdue plant in Showell, Maryland where chickens were processed while still alive and "flapping wildly" according to the Associated Press.

And Virgil Butler who worked on the kill floor and as a "live hanger" at the Tyson plant in Grannis, AK for five years testified that chickens routinely miss the killing machine because the line runs so fast and "are scalded alive."

"When this happens, the chickens flop, scream, kick, and their eyeballs pop out of their heads," he wrote in an affidavit to Arkansas officials in 2003. "Then, they often come out the other end with broken bones and disfigured and missing body parts because they've struggled so much in the tank."

(In an email, Ed Nicholson at Tyson confirmed that birds "enter the feather picking machinery without having been killed" but pointed out that "USDA inspectors condemn them" which is "recorded against the performance standards of the plant, so managers have incentives to ensure it does not occur." Whew.)

But it took the image of gentle Trappist monks debeaking and starving their egg laying flock, well, mindfully, as a PETA video charges to get the nation talking about chicken treatment.

"PETA's video implies that the monks practice beak trimming, even though the abbey receives its hens with beaks already trimmed," says an editorial on Consumerfreedom.com.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by (more...)

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