- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Next time you bite into a finger-lickin' good piece of the Colonel's original recipe, remember you could be consuming a connoisseur of classical music.
That's part of the message People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sending as they launch a campaign against the KFC fast-food chain because, they say, it has lax standards for the raising and slaughtering of chickens.
"Chickens are interesting individuals who have as much right not to be cooked and eaten as a dog or a cat or even a human being," said PETA spokesman, Bruce Friedrich.
PETA, however, isn't the sole source of support for the feathery fowl.
In 2002, the PBS documentary "The Natural History of the Chicken" won an Emmy for portraying the plight of "more than 8 billion chickens [that] will be sacrificed this year for America's desire for cheap, versatile meals." In the documentary review, PBS explained, "Chickens love to watch television and have vision similar to humans. They also seem to enjoy all forms of music, especially classical."
Armed with that knowledge and successful protests against other fast-food giants, such as McDonalds and Burger King, PETA plans to educate the public on "the amount of suffering that goes into a bucket of KFC's chicken wings."
PETA describes the treatment of KFC's birds (700 million each year) from birth to butchering as "inhumane," citing overcrowded sheds, chickens gorged until they can't support their own weight and "crude" slaughter procedures. PETA says ineffective stun baths at processing plants mean the chickens are aware of workers hanging them from metal shackles, slitting their throats and plunging them into a tub of scalding water.
Buttons, bumper stickers and leaflets depicting KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders gleefully hacking a chicken with a butcher's knife were among the propaganda at the Jan. 7 kickoff demonstration in Louisville, Ky., home base of Yum Brands, KFC's parent company.
Yum Brands, which also owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Long John Silver's, defends its animal-welfare standards. Yum representatives declined a phone interview, but responded with a statement:
"KFC denies PETA's claims. KFC is committed to the well being and humane treatment of chickens and we require all of our suppliers to follow welfare guidelines developed by us with leading experts on our Animal Welfare Advisory Council."
The Animal Welfare Advisory Council, a seven-member panel of experts, met recently in San Diego to further develop the chain's supplier guidelines and audit program.
Yum Brands has supported the joint effort of the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Food Marketing Institute to formulate industry-wide guidelines. Officials said they are disappointed in the steps PETA has taken against the company.
"Yum Brands has been very cooperative with the review of farmed animal standards. To go after a company that has made these kind of efforts is a real shot in the foot because PETA knows that KFC has been working on this with us," said Terrie Dort, council president.
The National Chicken Council, an organization representing 95 percent of the producers in the U.S. chicken market (including KFC's suppliers) called PETA's campaign against KFC a "publicity stunt."
"They come up with something new every month to keep people hyped and contributions rolling in," said Richard Lobb, NCC director of communications.
A month into its campaign, PETA officials are confident KFC will comply with its demands, which include adding more space for the birds and using gassing methods for slaughter rather than the electric stun bath.

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