KFC Canada backs controlled-atmosphere slaughter

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has pledged to end its boycott of KFC Canada, after the chicken chain agreed to a new animal welfare plan including support for controlled-atmosphere slaughter.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based advocacy group, operators of the “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” campaign, said KFC Canada has pledged to phase in a plan that would eventually see all the company’s chicken purchased from suppliers who use “controlled-atmosphere” slaughter.

That pledge makes KFC Canada — which is owned and operated separately from the U.S. chain, itself owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands — the first major restaurant chain to commit to phasing in the exclusive purchasing of chicken meat from slaughterhouses using the gas-slaughter method, PETA said.

PETA said it will continue its boycott of KFC restaurants in the U.S. and other countries until they follow KFC Canada’s lead.

According to the group, KFC Canada has also pledged to improve its animal welfare audit criteria to reduce the number of broken bones and other injuries to birds.

The company also reportedly promised to urge its suppliers to adopt practices such as improved lighting and lower stocking density and phase out use of growth-promoting drugs and breeding practices that PETA said “painfully cripple chickens.”

The company would also strike an animal welfare advisory panel to “monitor the changes and recommend further advancements,” PETA said.

Furthermore, PETA said, a vegan faux-chicken item will be added to the menu of all 461 KFC restaurants owned by Toronto-based Priszm Income Fund — which account for about 60 per cent of the KFC outlets in Canada.

Priszm, which owns franchises in all provinces except for Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and P.E.I., confirmed the pledges outlined in PETA’s announcement. Other KFC restaurants in Canada, owned by other franchisees or independent operators, have all agreed to the same pledges, except for the vegan menu item.

“Our preference is to have nothing negative attached to our brand,” said Steve Langford, who was named in March this year as president of KFC/Taco Bell for Priszm, quoted in a report Monday by news agency Canadian Press.

PETA’s announcement, titled “KFC Canada Gives In to PETA’s Demands,” was prominent on the group’s “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” web site on Monday. A blog by PETA’s Matt Prescott described the announcement as following months of negotiations, e-mails and phone calls with company officials.

PETA, best known for public pressure tactics including media events, on-site demonstrations, celebrity endorsements and provocative ad campaigns, has operated its “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” campaign since 2003, with endorsements by a number of celebrities including Canadian actors Pamela Anderson and Ryan Gosling.

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