KFC has been accused of a “misleading” portrayal of chicken farming after activists revisited a farm recently highlighted in a film by a YouTube influencer.
The Behind the Bucket film published last December saw YouTuber Niko Omilana visit a farm operated by meat company Moy Park, one of Europe’s leading poultry producers, which sells chicken to KFC. The film has been watched more than 1m times on the Twitter account of the news and entertainment website Joe. In the film, birds are shown in a shed, with fresh straw covering the floor and perches provided as enrichment.
Visiting the farm in February, undercover investigators working on behalf of the vegan food brand VFC described finding severe overcrowding, little fresh straw and sick, lame and dead birds. Footage published by VFC from inside the farm, which has capacity for 380,000 birds, appears to show the floor sodden with animal faeces and little or no fresh straw. It also appears to show dead birds lying on the floor and sick, injured or lame birds. Bins containing dead chicken carcasses were also filmed.
Viewing VFC’s footage from the farm, Prof Andrew Knight, from the University of Winchester’s Centre for Animal Welfare, said the birds appeared to be held at “very high stocking density, within a vast shed, which included little to no environmental enrichment”. He added that the “severe crowding and barren environment meant these birds had very little room to move, and to exercise highly motivated natural behaviours, such as foraging and exploring”.
Paul Roger, a vet and founder member of the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association, said birds in VFC’s footage were exhibiting “behavioural signs of stress such as feather pecking and topical skin infection”.
Matthew Glover, VFC’s cofounder, said: “This is the most disingenuous marketing campaign we have seen for a long time. This portrayal of chicken farming is utterly misleading and seeks to reassure the public that all is well, when nothing could be further from the truth.”
In response to the allegations KFC said: “We take the welfare of the chickens in our supply chain extremely seriously. We will continue to work with Moy Park to ensure these standards are being met and we will continue to drive transparency, which is an important part of our welfare work – removing misconceptions and ensuring accountability across the industry.”
A spokesperson for Moy Park told the Guardian: “Claims such as these are treated incredibly seriously and we immediately reviewed the footage along with independent audits and veterinary reports. “This farm is managed to a very high standard and our preliminary findings show that it is meeting those standards. The birds are displaying natural behaviours and the farm adheres to all stocking, enrichment and welfare requirements.”
The company said that staff visit sheds a minimum of three times a day to assess the health and welfare of the birds. “A small number of birds may die between those checks and are identified and removed during the next inspection.” The spokesperson added that people in a shed at an irregular time could also affect the birds’ movements.
Stuart Jones, director of Upload agency, which represents Niko Omilana, said: “Whilst we take these allegations very seriously and will speak with KFC about these claims, the filming that our client took part in accurately reported the conditions he saw and experienced on the day.”
A spokesperson for Joe Media said that the filming it conducted on behalf of KFC reported the conditions they saw and experienced on the day.
Original source: https://www.theguardian.com