January 10, 2019
Pilgrim's Pride modifies animal welfare statements following complaint
Pilgrim's Pride has changed wording on its website following a complaint filed with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that accused the company of making "misleading" claims about its animal welfare standards, Bloomberg reported.
The matter concerns Pilgrim's Pride's pledge that its chickens "were raised with the highest standards" and bred in "the best possible growout conditions."
The proclamation raised the ire of the Humane Society of the United States which argued that birds under the company's care were subject to cruel treatment. Pilgrim Pride's chickens were apparently living in dark and dirty barns, and were sometimes scalded alive during slaughter, according to the organisation. It referred to investigations, USDA inspection records and whistleblower accounts to back its case against the company.
In the meantime, Pilgrim's Pride claimed that the company's taking down of its Pilgrims.com website and its subsequent replacement by a redesigned platform, PilgrimsUSA.com was no coincidence, even though those actions occurred within 10 days of the FTC filing.
However, Bloomberg noted some problematic statements that were pointed out by the Humane Society are either removed or toned down. One such change is reflected on the new website's Frequently Asked Questions page, where the company now says "birds are treated humanely and raised with care" - with the exclusion of the "with the highest standards" claim.
The Humane Society had also said that the unusually fast growth of Pilgrim's Pride birds have weakened their legs' capability to support them. In addition, the birds suffered from cardiovascular issues, ruptured tendons and bone deformities, the FTC filing stated.
The organisation furthermore accused Pilgrim's Pride of keeping birds in poorly ventilated, dirty and crowded barns which lead to respiratory problems and eye lesions.
Pilgrim's Pride has so far deny the recent allegations.
Certain statements that are at odds with the Humane Society's complaint is still on the company's website. It also did not change texts pertaining to its 2016 and 2017 sustainability reports that included references to its "uncompromising commitment to humane animal welfare.