Lawsuit challenges rehab labor in chicken plants

A class-action lawsuit in Arkansas challenges as unconstitutional two drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation programs that require participants to work for free at chicken processing plants and a plastic manufacturing plant, reports Reveal, from the Center from Investigative Reporting. The programs are populated by defendants who are sent to rehab as an alternative to imprisonment.

‘Big Chicken’ shows government regulators were slow to act on ABX resistance

Antibiotic-resistant infections — everything from gastrointestinal illnesses to recurring urinary tract infections and staph — are among the most menacing issues in public health today, sickening 2 million people a year and killing at least 23,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So perhaps it’s not surprising that government has begun to take steps to limit antibiotics in animal agriculture, where many of these infections arise, before they wreak further havoc in humans.

Chicken industry, lawmakers ask for faster line speeds at processing plants

Republican lawmakers and the chicken industry "are aggressively lobbying to speed up" inspection lines, now limited to 140 birds per minute, at poultry slaughter and processing plants, says NBC News. The trade group National Chicken Council has petitioned USDA to allow plants participating in a new inspection system to operate "at any line speed" they can handle.

More chain restaurants say ‘no antibiotics in chicken,’ not so fast on beef and pork

Fourteen of the top 25 restaurant chains in the United States are telling farmers to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in chickens, compared with nine a year ago, according to the annual Chain Reaction report. “While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.”

Tyson freezes plans for big chicken plant in Kansas after protest

Less than two weeks ago, Tyson food executives, officials in Tonganoxie and Leavenworth counties in Kansas and Gov. Sam Brownback revealed a $320-million plan to develop "a chicken hatchery, feed mill, meatpacking plant and 300 to 400 poultry grow houses," reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. By Monday, 2,400 residents, including many ranchers, had gathered in the streets to protest the chicken plant, cheering a sign held by a 4-year-old: “No Tyson! No friggin’ chickens! No kidding!”

Study: antibiotic use in India’s chicken industry is a looming disaster

Poultry farms in India are dosing their chickens with antibiotics at such high rates that 94 percent of meat chickens and 60 percent of laying hens tested in a new study harbored multi-drug-resistant bacteria that can cause grave human infections.

Perdue gets high marks from activists on its chicken reforms

The 21-day-old chicken — white-feathered, dark-eyed, with a brush-cut of pale yellow bristles above its beak — climbed carefully up a ramp, teetered briefly at the top, then launched itself into space. It landed on another bird, flapped hard, and gave its accidental landing pad an apologetic peck. Then it wandered off into a crowd of more than 49,000 chickens just like it that were hopping into boxes, poking their beaks into straw bales, and settling in pools of sunlight for a snooze.

Humane Society: Perdue leads the pack on animal-welfare

The Humane Society of the U.S. praised Perdue, the country’s fourth-largest poultry producer, for a series of animal-welfare reforms that it called “meaningful and precedent-setting.” The reforms include installing windows in poultry houses to allow more natural light; giving each bird more space; putting the birds to sleep before slaughter; and testing slower-growing breeds.

How the government spent $879 million on the bird-flu epidemic

The average cost of cleaning and disinfecting an egg farm hit by highly pathogenic avian influenza during the 2014-15 epidemic was $8 million, according to three researchers who examined the $879 million the government spent to combat the disease.