One of America’s top three poultrymeat producers, Perdue Farms, has launched a new website to help consumers better understand indoor chicken production.
The move follows a spate of bad publicity about the firm and the US poultry industry in general, with the release of a video from animal rights body Compassion USA filmed inside a contracted Perdue Farms broiler unit.
In the video, contract grower Craig Watts, who invited Compassion to his farm, says consumers are being “hoodwinked” by the use of terms like “humanely raised”. The film shows a number of dead chicks, chicks with deformed beaks and adult birds with twisted legs.
“They are not happy, and they are definitely not healthy,” said Mr Watts. The video, which has been circulated beyond the US and seen 1.6m times, criticises the lack of natural light, the “disproportionately large breasts” of broilers, and the fact they spent most of the time sitting on deep faeces.
But Perdue Farms has struck back with its new website, designed to show the reality of responsible chicken production.
“We know that consumers have questions about where their food comes from,” said senior food safety executive Bruce Stewart-Brown. “This new website is a way for consumers to better understand why we raise many of our chickens indoors, and our commitment to responsible animal husbandry across all of our raising programmes.”
The website uses photos and video to show the inside of chicken houses, and to allow independent growers to share their experiences. An “info-graphic” explains how a modern chicken house provides a comfortable environment for chickens.
Perdue is also sharing the content with consumers through social media. New content, including grower interviews, will be added to keep the site fresh and relevant.
Meanwhile, the dispute with Mr Watts continues. Following the release of the video, the farmer says he has been subject to numerous inspection visits, claiming in various media interviews that he is being retaliated against. But Perdue Farms has said the audits are purely to check that its birds are being properly cared for and animal welfare standards met.
An independent expert assessment of the video suggested the deformed birds shown should have been culled by the farmer at a much earlier stage.
See also: The Real Truth About Chicken – from the US National Chicken Council