"Perhaps most horrifying is that birds are scalded alive," Shapiro told the media during a conference call on Monday. "It's clear that there just wasn't a concern on the part of the company for these issues of animal welfare."
HSUS filed a complaint with the local sheriff's office in Butterfield, Minn., alleging that the facility violated state anti-cruelty laws. It also filed a complaint with the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The organization says that USDA inspectors at Butterfield Foods were not present in the areas preslaughter, like the killing floor and the scalding tank, meaning that they did not document or count the number of red birds. In the video, many of these birds are thrown into a bucket and disposed of before they reach USDA inspectors in processing rooms - meaning that the USDA doesn't keep track of how many birds are scalded alive.
Improving animal welfare for chickens is tricky. Though they comprise nine out of 10 of the animals slaughtered for food in the U.S., chickens are entirely exempt from the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, which requires that livestock be rendered insensible to pain before slaughter.