USDA Wants to Double Poultry Processing Speed, Killing More Birds & Injuring More Workers


Written by Mat McDermott

Take this as a further sign of just how hopelessly broken our industrial food production system is: A new piece in The Nation paints a grim picture of both how sickeningly many chickens are killed for food in the United States, as well as how the workers carrying out the grizzly work fareóhint, not well.

Read the whole thing, but just one short excerpt (the author worked at a poultry processing plant) is a glimpse of the horror show to come:

I was soon tearing through more than 7,000 chicken breasts each night (I worked the graveyard shift), while nearby workers sliced up countless birds with knives and scissors. The massive plant was capable of killing and processing nearly 1.5 million birds a week, and the pace was as relentless as such numbers suggest. We often didnít even have time to wipe bits of chicken flesh from our faces, and I took to popping ibuprofen during breaks to quell the swelling in my hands. (Pilgrimís Pride, the poultry giant that owned the plant, was nice enough to line one wall of the break room with dispensers filled with painkillers; it wasnít nice enough, however, to provide them free of charge.)

Here’s another sickening factoid: The current maximum speed the poultry line is supposed to move under USDA regulations is 91 chickens per minute. And they want to increase it to 175.

But let’s back up: One plant in Alabama, albeit one described as “massive”, kills 1.5 million chickens every week. Let’s assume it runs 52 weeks a year. That’s 78 million chickens killed annually in one place. Death.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


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Photo from bgreenlee via flickr


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Dale Overall

Interesting article regarding mass food production ruined by all the insults that fly around in the comment section. One person screams that only solution is to go vegetarian typing in caps as if we are all so dim that we can't read a comment written in lower case - some people sound like their cult just let them out the door.

Mass production, factory farming causes health/cruelty problems. Do we always have to jump on a high horse and scream at everyone in caps on Care2? If you want to be vegan or vegetarian fine, do it and stop screaming at meat or poultry eaters.

We get genetically modified veggies and fruits a la mega farming so even if one is a vegan or vegetarian you have to be careful about what you buy and if you are lucky enough to buy organic that helps.

The world is not going to change as far as eating poultry or meat so make the changes to your own diets without screaming like a cult member at every one else. When Mother Nature decides to change her ways and lets all entities on the planet survive by eating rock pate and no more dining on death be it plants or whatever then I will stop eating anything organic. Nonsensical statements that we are the plague of the earth...or workers who die in accidents are no loss or eating dead cadavers are some of you people ill or what?

Spiders feast on living insects and carnivores like tigers devour living animals every day, maybe Mother Nature should be put on the rack for creating organic beings in the first

Dale Overall

To continue with the comment below since Care 2 has not twitter like process to tell us when we are coming to the end of our word allotment--

Spiders feast on living insects and carnivores like tigers devour living animals every day, maybe Mother Nature should be put on the rack for creating organic beings in the first place.

If people choose to be vegan/vegetarian, go right ahead. Others opt for poultry, meat, fish and the best sources are organic not huge factory farms. You will not stop people from eating what they choose to and you are not more enlightened because you dine on asparagus rather than beef or in this case chicken.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla5 years ago

So sad....

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright5 years ago

I'm with Edo............and another great reason why eating animals is the only way to go.

Edo F.
Edo F5 years ago

Beyond words. Simply disgusting.

Kelly R.
Kelly Rogers5 years ago

Anything to think about. E-Coli, Samonilla and any other illness that will contaminate the food supply. There needs to be a law that states if it comes from farm factories or not. Tyson also needs to be investigated on their practices of animal inhumaness. I would like to see a boycott of Tyson foods until they clean up their act

Mary Mattarelli
Mary Mattarelli5 years ago


Nirvana Jaganath
Nirvana Jaganath5 years ago


Nancy P.
Nancy P5 years ago

Supply and demand....if we consumers say "NO" to factory farming and refuse to buy then the dollar will speak. Consumers should choose to buy humane products and buy from local farms. This includes resturants that you eat at....choose resturants that use local, free-range animals.....remember that the "egg McMuffin" you eat for breakfast came from that factory farm! All animals deserve better!