Monday, August 15, 2011


The poultry industry has always been under pressure to improve the current practices in most poultry farms to raise chickens for processing into meat. One of the most frequently aired criticisms is that the industry does not show any humane consideration towards the birds when they are stuffed into small cages with hardly any space to move their legs or wings which put them into intense discomfort. It is such cruel practices which have spawned products like "cage free" birds which fetch a much higher value in the market. Many old timers still remember with nostalgia the uniquely tasty meat from free range birds which are not restrained by any means allowing them to roam freely over a large area. Whether there is any difference in the metabolic reactions in birds raised free and those restrained in small cages is not precisely known. But critics of industrial scale poultry farming invariably raise the issue of causing cruelty to the birds which is abhorred by many consumers. Recent reports from the US indicate that the poultry industry there have agreed to change their current practices and start using bigger cages with other features to ensure a better comfort level to the hapless birds within a span of 5 years.

While the way poultry farming is done at present may change soon for better, another area which cries for reforms is the butchering of the birds currently being done in a most disgusting way inviting scathing criticism universally. According to available information Chicken Abattoirs are terrifying horror places where the birds are subjected to torture at different stages with least humane consideration. While extinguishing the life of any creature, the least human beings can do is to minimize the pain to the victim as much as possible. Of course, the stunning process extensively deployed in all abattoirs has evolved for such a purpose though how many abattoirs do this scientifically is a debatable point.

According to knowledgeable experts, current practice in most poultry slaughter houses involves "stuffing" the birds in small crates; transporting these crates to slaughter house often under unbearable weather conditions; keeping them 1-9 hours in holding docks with neither food nor water;, hanging them upside down with most birds already crippled and some just hanging on with one leg; pushing their head and upper body through a trough of cold, electrified, salt water for stunning, paralyzing the muscles of the feather follicles for easily removing the feather and imparting desirable quality to the carcass; slicing the neck to cut the carotid artery for fast bleeding and death in about 90 seconds; dumping the ead birds into semi-scalding hot water; further cleaning to recover the edible carcass for marketing. What is sad in this automated process is that millions of birds do not become stunned, many do not die before the bleeding operation and live birds
are put in hot water, all causing immense pain and misery to them during their evening of life. There are other variations also practiced but they are also not free from criticism regarding their humane nature..

Keeping in view the above drawbacks of current practices, a new technique is reported to have been evolved using Low Atmospheric Pressure Technology System (LAPS) which is claimed to knock out or kill the birds by lowering air pressure in a sealed chamber within about 4 minutes. The birds when subjected to a low pressure in a closed chamber, deprived of oxygen, loses their consciousness within a minute and are not supposed to feel any pain there after. If these claims are true LAPS can be expected to resonate with consumers as wells as those who care about animal welfare in large scale commercial food production Probably this method may become industry standard in the years to come replacing the most widely used electric stunning or the CO2 gas stunning used by some others.


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