Scientists say there is no welfare advantage to controlled-atmosphere stunning

The American Association of Avian Pathologists and American College of Poultry Veterinarians have stated that there is no advantage to using controlled-atmosphere stunning systems to slaughter poultry, as opposed to the electrical stunning methods that is commonly used in the United States today.

A statement from the two groups reads in part, “Physiologic evaluation has failed to demonstrate any welfare advantage of any CAS system over other accepted poultry electrical stunning methods in the United States. Specifically, pulsed DC or AC low voltage stunning (the current U.S. industry standards) allows plants to achieve instant electro-anesthesia at rates exceeding 99.95 percent efficiency when properly applied, as denoted by EEG monitoring and physical examination.


The alternative CAS systems, while viable, do not offer any known animal welfare advantages and may in fact be associated with poultry excitation and injury prior to loss of consciousness. However, in the case of extremely large poultry, the CAS systems can offer some human ergonomic advantages for processing plant employees.”


The AAAP and ACPV’s current position on the topic is that electrical stunning and CAS are both viable and acceptable systems for humane stunning of poultry, and they recommend further research on stunning physiology and the refinement of humane stunning applications.


According to the National Chicken Council, about 1 in 5 poultry plants in Europe use atmospheric stunning to render birds unconscious or even kill them. Only a few plants in the United States use the systems, with the majority favoring electrical stunning to render the birds unconscious before they are killed. The NCC notes that electrical systems in Europe must be powerful enough to actually kill the birds and not just render them unconscious, requiring a higher level of electricity that sometimes causes product quality issues.


This morning, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced it would use a “McCruelty” campaign against McDonalds in order to pressure the company into insisting its chicken suppliers use CAS systems. PETA has used similar campaigns against KFC in the past.


The Chicaho Tribune reports that McDonald’s has studied the chicken issue extensively, and has conducted its own tests on the gas method of slaughter, said Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president of corporate social responsibility. "It's not conclusive that it's more humane."


Sources: National Chicken Council, Chicago Tribune

Dairy cows more valuable for slaughter than for milk

Milk prices have dropped so low that farmers who can no longer afford to feed the animals are selling parts of their herds for slaughter. A “perfect storm” of domestic and global economic conditions -- rising feed prices, consumers are eating out less, the global recession has cut into sales of U.S. butter and cheese exports -- has hurt the industry.


“This could destroy our dairy infrastructure,” said Mike Marsh, CEO of United Western Dairymen, according to the Associated Press. As of February 2, the price farmers receive for a gallon of milk has been 80 cents a gallon, less than half the $1.65 a gallon the California Department of Food and Agriculture estimates it costs to produce.


Approximately 262,500 dairy cows were slaughtered in January 2008, up more than 43,000 from January, 2008. Since September, federal livestock reports show that dairy cow slaughter is up 30 percent, while beef cow slaughter is down 14 percent.


Industry officials predicted that 1.5 million of the country’s 9.3 million milking cows could be slaughtered unless the markets can be bolstered. “We need to get supply and demand into alignment as quickly as possible so this economic trainwreck isn’t strung out,” Marsh said.


Source: Associated Press

Kahiki Foods introduces Asian chicken flavors

Kahiki Foods, a provider of restaurant-quality Asian frozen foods, has introduced a new line of all-natural Tempura white meat chicken that delivers multiple convenience to customers. The new product is available in four flavors: General Tso’s, Sweet and Sour, Crispy Honey and Mandarin Orange, and the product can be cooked in a conventional oven in eight minutes.
Each multi-use package contains 26 ounces of chicken and one of the sauce packets for dipping. The chicken meals will be available in grocery stores across the country in early 2009.
Source: Kahiki Foods

Hill Meat Co. wins recycler award

Hill Meat Co. of Pendleton, Ore., has earned the Pendleton Commercial Recycler of the Year Award for 2008 from the Pendleton Sanitary Service. The company produces fresh and smoked meats, including sausages, hams, ribs, chops, salami, bacon and other pork products. 
Hill Meat generates about 13,500 pounds of corrugated cardboard a month, making is one of the largest corrugated producers that Pendleton Sanitary Service handles. It has worked with the service company for more than 27 years, making it the oldest recycling customer. Mike McHenry, vice president of Pendleton Sanitary Service, said that the Hill Meat also maintains excellent quality with nearly no contamination. 

Source: East Oregonian, Hill Meat Co.