Can the Chickens We Eat Feel Pain When They Are Slaughtered?

Meat-eaters rarely think about how the animals they eat are cared for and slaughtered, though buzzwords like “factory farms” and “animal welfare” creep in and out of the news now and again. According to the National Chicken Council, chickens are electronically stunned before they are slaughtered, which renders the animals unable to feel pain. Or so we thought.

A review by Dr. Mohan Raj, an adviser to the European Union’s food safety agency and expert on the topic of humane slaughter, told The Huffington Post that standard practices make it virtually impossible to ensure all chickens are effectively stunned unconscious.

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“We are aware of no direct evidence demonstrating that the electrical settings used in the United States are adequate to meet international standards for humane stunning and slaughter of poultry,” Raj said in his review.

Of course, major chicken companies like Tyson deny these accusations, saying “proper animal handling is an important moral and ethical obligation and we take it very seriously.” However, a spokesperson for Tyson told The Huffington Post that it did not maintain electrical setting standards for the entire company.

Last year, Tyson was forced to drop a chicken supplier after a video showing animal abuse was released. This year, Perdue has introduced better and more humane living conditions for all of its chickens.