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PETA targets McDonald's over chicken slaughter

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is now demanding that McDonald's require its US chicken suppliers adopt a "less cruel" method of slaughter.

The animal welfare organisation believes that chickens should be slaughtered using the controlled atmospheric stunning (CAS) method so that the birds experience the least amount of suffering possible.

The animal welfare organisation says it is largely reinstating the "McCruelty" campaign it last used against McDonald's in 2000.

PETA is aiming to pressure McDonald's into convincing US chicken suppliers to make use of CAS stunning at the slaughter plants. McDonald's has the power to "require that changes be made" by its suppliers, said PETA's director of corporate affairs, Matt Prescott.

McDonald's has studied the chicken issue extensively, including conducting its own tests on the gas method of slaughter, said Bob Langert, McDonald's vice president of corporate social responsibility. "It's not conclusive that it's more humane."

Almost all US chicken slaughter plants use conventional stunning, which is based on the fact that animals can be put into an unconscious state by a low-level electrical current.

Natalie Berkhout

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