People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has taken serious issue with how Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) treats the animals that eventually become their product. PETA has launched a campaign called “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” in an attempt to spread the word about how this popular fast-food chain treats chickens in their factories, including celebrity endorsements publically boycotting the company and its products. It is difficult as an animal lover to not sympathize with PETA’s efforts to change the way animals are treated in the food industry; however, PETA’s outrage and out lash is misdirected. If this organization wants to see changes in how animals are treated in the food industry, they must take this issue to the appropriate government agency and not attack an individual company like KFC.
PETA’s actions are aimed at gaining public attention for the perceived cruelty towards chickens in factories like those owned and operated by KFC. By singling in on a popular brand, PETA hopes to stir up enough public outrage to shut down businesses that handle animals in this manner. PETA’s arguments are, however, quite convincing, regardless of how misdirected their efforts might be. On their campaign website, Kentucky Fried Cruelty, PETA has the following to say about KFC:
KFC suppliers cram birds into huge waste-filled factories, breed and drug them to grow so large that they can’t even walk, and often break their wings and legs. At slaughter, the birds’ throats are slit and they are dropped into tanks of scalding-hot water—often while they are still conscious. It would be illegal for KFC to abuse dogs, cats, pigs, or cows in these ways. (“PETA’s Campaign Against KFC”)
Statements like these do often appeal to the public who don’t want to consciously support such activities. For KFC, reality dictates that in order to maximize profits, they will not invest in more costly means of killing chickens and instead focus on profits from expeditious killing and genetically modified adulterations, which is really the bottom line in this case.
KFC has defended its business practices by proving their actions to be legal. There is no better argument than that. If KFC were engaging in unethical business practices, not dictated by an organization like PETA, but by government regulation, this would be an entirely different situation. Although PETA’s claims and their videos offer heartbreaking images of animals being tortured, it hasn’t seemed to deter business from KFC’s customers. It is clear that many people are apathetic about where the food they eat comes from and how it gets there.
Most people would probably be in favor of KFC changing some of its practices to ensure a so-called cruelty-free product, but until they become aware of how these chickens are killed, it is highly unlikely that they will care to take the time to research. Therefore, the tactics used by PETA to discourage a boycott of KFC by horrific descriptions and even video footage of animals being tortured for the sake of profit are outrageous because they have to be in order to get people’s attention. While it does not seem just for PETA to be able to publically single out KFC’s business practices, it also doesn’t seem right that they are allowed to treat animals in this way. Do all animals have rights? That seems to be the real question here, which is left unanswered by the government. As PETA points out, it is unlawful to abuse a dog, but not a chicken. What needs to happen here is a more clear legal description and enforcement of laws that apply to all businesses in food production; this way, if KFC’s prices go up due to adherence to more ethically responsible treatment of animals, so will the prices of any marketable food item, thereby ensuring that only one company is affected by policy changes.
"PETA's Campaign Against KFC.” KentuckyFriedCruelty.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.