USDA Says Sick Chickens Could Be Sold; PETA Says Time to Go Vegan Is Now

Published by Tara DiMaio.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, many of us are sheltering in place to stay safe. But what about that rotisserie chicken you grabbed for dinner? Eating chicken flesh can come at the cost of your life. And now, thanks to a new rule the Trump administration may propose, chicken with an avian virus would be for sale in stores.

chickens packed in a barn

Sickness for Sale

Chickens with avian leukosis virus are fit for the market, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a shocking statement. The virus causes birds to develop cancerous tumors, and its painful side effects include dehydration and depression.

Although the virus isn’t new, the sale of it would be. Currently, slaughterhouses are required to throw away any bird who is sick. Inspectors check a certain amount of the flock as a safeguard against the disease. If this new rule is proposed and finalized, workers could simply cut out tumors if found, with fewer inspections in place.

This news comes after President Donald J. Trump signed a nonbinding executive order allowing slaughterhouses to stay open earlier this year. Trump had already put human health at risk in a dangerous and bloody decision that cost the lives of millions of animals.

© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Wet market in Anhui. China, 2016.

Cancer Is Painful for Chickens, Too

Each one of these birds is an individual who already suffers from chronic health conditions. Humans who get sick from a virus or cancer seek treatment and pain management in a hospital. Chickens who face the same health issues have no access to individualized medical care. These birds face the worst of a potentially deadly disease.

Chickens are a lot smarter than we think. They dream like humans and purr when petted, just like cats, but 24 million of them are slaughtered for food every day in the U.S. These sweet birds were all raised for humans to eat their body parts. No matter how big or small a farm is, chickens live and die in misery.

chicks in grass

The Chicken Industry Breeds Disease

Contagious diseases from the meat industry may sound familiar. That’s because raising and killing animals by the billions creates breeding grounds for disease. A “wet market,” in which live animals are sold next to corpses, is believed to be where the novel coronavirus originated. But that’s not all. Meat consumption is linked to some of the biggest diseases of modern history: SARS, HIV, and swine flu are just a few of them.


Thanks to the avian virus, a chicken farm in the U.K. killed over 400 birds earlier this month. Officials cited public health concerns as the reason. They even restricted farm access to prevent the disease from spreading. Why? All because some people still eat the flesh of dead birds. The spread of disease could be greatly reduced if people left meat and eggs off their plates.

Save Chickens and Save Your Health

There isn’t a single federal law in the U.S. that protects chickens from abuse. Chickens on “broiler farms” live in filthy, windowless sheds. Don’t kid yourself about “cage-free” or “free-range” eggs, either. Chickens used for products with those labels aren’t much better off than those on regular factory farms. Most of them never even see the light of day.

Cage free egg farm (right), hens in grass (left)RIGHT: © Direct Action Everywhere

Protecting your health has never been so urgent. For your sake and that of animals destined to be slaughtered, cut chicken flesh out of your life today. Need some meal ideas? Save a life by choosing vegan chicken, and check out these easy vegan swaps for eggs.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind