USDA petitioned to include poultry in humane slaughter law

DES MOINES, Iowa — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been asked by an animal rights group to require more humane treatment for turkeys, chickens and ducks as the animals are sent to slaughter.

California-based Mercy For Animals filed a petition Wednesday formally asked the USDA to include poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. The 1958 law requires pigs and cows to be free from neglect, abuse and pain as they’re sent to slaughter, but the law excludes poultry.

A USDA spokeswoman says the agency didn’t have an immediate comment but would release a response later.

Tom Super is a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, a trade group for companies raising chickens for meat. He says chicken processors “already have strong moral and financial motivation to ensure chickens are handled properly.”