Abuse of chickens on modern farms is well-documented. Countless undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals and other groups have revealed a culture of cruelty and neglect whereby animals are kept in extreme confinement, subjected to mutilations without painkillers, and ruthlessly killed.
But animals aren’t the only victims of this profit-hungry industry. A new Oxfam report reveals the terrible conditions to which factory farmers subject.
Lives on the Line, a new multimedia report from Oxfam America, details the harsh conditions chicken workers face in the U.S. Oxfam interviewed poultry workers in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Mississippi, and found they typically processed between 35 and 45 birds per minute—that’s more than 2,000 chickens an hour and 14,000 chickens in a workday.
Workers are also often denied bathroom breaks, requiring many to limit their liquid consumption. Some have even resorted to wearing diapers.
In a press release, Oxfam America’s president explains, “Poultry workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in the United States. The industry is booming, profits are climbing, but poultry workers remain trapped at the bottom.”
Factory farm workers are exposed to countless workplace hazards, including injuries, respiratory illness, and PTSD. They also risk exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In fact, a recent issue of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that 10 out of 22 workers who were tested carried potentially deadly bacteria.
If this weren’t bad enough, in 2012, House of Raeford, one of the largest poultry processors in the country, was fined by the United States Department of Labor for illegally employing underage workers at its chicken slaughter plant in Duplin County, North Carolina.
While the victims and the abuses are different, one doesn’t need a magnifying glass to see the connections between abuse of workers and abuse of animals on factory farms.
The most powerful choice compassionate people can make to protect animals and workers from abuse is to leave meat off their plates for good.