KFC protest: PETA says chix battered then fried

On Tuesday, November 16, three activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Emmet Street KFC to protest what the group calls "abusive" practices in chicken processing.

Among those alleged practices: using chicken suppliers who scald live chickens to remove their feathers and who cut off beaks to prevent chickens from pecking themselves and each other.

"Some of those animals starve" rather than eat through the resulting wound, says Ben Goldsmith, a PETA activist who organized the 18-city KFC protest tour that included a stop at the Charlottesville franchise. Many of the 750-million chickens KFC serves up each year are routinely beaten and stomped, Goldsmith claims. Other allegations say that chickens are fed hormones that cause them to grow from just-hatched chick to oversized, slaughter-ready bird in just a month.

PETA sent an undercover activist armed with a video camera into the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Moorefield, WV, and discovered these and other horrors. Although Shenandoah Valley is home to numerous poultry processing plants, PETA has not specifically targeted any of them.

Management at the Charlottesville KFC declined comment, and representatives from KFC's corporate headquarters did not immediately return the Hook's call. But a July statement from KFC president Gregg Dedrick blasts Norfolk-based PETA, whose tactics he calls "corporate terrorism."

Dedrick maintains on the website that KFC's new campaign is based on the valid discovery of animal cruelty at a single independent supplier, Pilgrim's Pride. Dedrick says KFC– which purchased 15 percent of that plant's product– has ceased doing business with Pilgrim's Pride until the plant can prove the abuse will not continue.

"This ongoing PETA campaign of distortion, deceit, and duplicity is outrageous," says Dedrick, who questions why PETA has singled out KFC, which sells five percent of the chicken consumed by Americans each year.

Goldsmith says KFC is refusing to make "proactive" changes in policy. He claims PETA has done additional undercover videotaping showing that cruel poultry processing practices are widespread, and he hopes consumers will boycott KFC until new policies are in place at the company.

"People don't like to see animals suffer unnecessarily," he says.

But Dedrick has a different take.

"There's nothing wrong with being a vegetarian. And we respect that's what PETA's ultimate goal is," he says. "But we're proud that we sell world-famous chicken. So we'll never see eye to eye with them."

PETA activists Kat Erdel, Ben Goldsmith, and Stacey Norris hold fake slaughtered chickens to protest KFC's treatment of animals.