Recently I read an article about KFC no longer being able to call themselves “Kentucky Fried Chicken” because they don’t actually use chicken in their products, but instead use genetically engineered chickens that looks like this:
According to several websites, KFC’s chickens have no beaks or feet, they have multiple legs and wings growing on them, and they are kept alive by tubes inserted into their bodies to perform basic functions. These websites cite a study done at the University of New Hampshire.
Naturally, and prompted by the nightmare inducing photo above, I set out to find this study from UNH. Truth is, it doesn’t exist.
According the UNH,
An active Internet hoax, of the urban legend type, falsely claims that KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is using genetically engineered organisms instead of chickens. The hoax includes reference to an unspecified study of KFC done at the University of New Hampshire and there is no such research or study that was done here.
That’s right, it’s a hoax. To further discredit this hoax, the image was created by artist Eric Kuns to teach his students in China how to recognize a hoax. In time everyone will dismiss this and go back to eating Kentucky Fried Heart Attacks. But the truth is, the chickens KFC uses are equally as nightmare inducing.
Like majority of fast food chains, KFC gets its chickens from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). These are nicknamed “poultry prisons.” In some operations, chickens never even see the light of day, much less have the ability to run, or even walk around.
The world’s tens of billions of meat chickens—“broilers”—grow at a freakishly fast pace. Concentrated in houses with upwards of 20,000 to 30,000 other birds, each full-grown chicken gets less than a square foot of living space. Modern broilers spend their short 7-week lives on top of their own waste encrusted bedding, which the industry refers to as “cake” or “poultry litter,” and sometimes enters the food chain as a cattle feed supplement. Source
These chickens are crammed into tiny spaces and covered in their own excrement.
In 2004, a video was released of Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the operations in which KFC sources its chicken from. The video depicted horrible animal abuse, and while this happened 10 years ago, this kind of abuse happens all the time; it’s only brought to the public’s attention when some brave soul goes undercover to film it. If you have the stomach for it (I did not), you can watch that video here.
In 1958, the Congress passed the Humane Slaughter act, which doesn’t even apply to poultry, despite the fact that Americans eat more poultry than any other protein. When you consider the abuse that these animals experience, when you consider that according to USDA records, approximately one million chickens are accidentally boiled alive while fully conscious, this makes absolutely no sense.
And here’s the thing: this is not exclusive to KFC or fast food chains. When you buy chicken from your grocery store, it comes from these factories. When you buy that thirty cents a pound chicken, you’re supporting these operations.
Not to mention that these animals are fed genetically modified soy and corn as the staple of their diets. Chickens are meant to roam freely and eat bugs, but they are fed a cheap diet of subsidized GM crops. This in turn makes the chicken even less healthy, and supports the genetic modification of our food system.
Chickens are supposed to eat bugs and run around. They supposed to hang out in the sunshine and lay eggs and grow at their own pace. We need to stop supporting CAFO operations just because they’re cheaper. We need to start buying food from our local farmers, from our farmers markets, from our neighborhood co-ops that sell sustainable, local food. The only way to put an end to animal abuse and CAFOs is to stop giving them your money. This is how chickens are supposed to be raised:
Photo Cred: Eric Kuns