PETA Files FTC Complaint Over Inhumane Treatment of Butterball Birds

Consumers Unaware That 'Humane Certified' Label Allows Turkeys to Have Their Beaks Mutilated, Be Hung by Their Legs, and Subjected to Other Standard Practices

For Immediate Release:
November 13, 2014

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Washington – PETA filed a formal complaint this morning with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the agency to compel Butterball and the American Humane Association, which operates the American Humane Certified (AHC) program, to stop a campaign aimed at allegedly misleading consumers into purchasing turkeys whose flesh is labeled as “humane certified.” What consumers don’t realize is that AHC standards allow Butterball and other producers to crowd turkeys into dark sheds that reek of ammonia from accumulated urine and feces; amputate their toes and cut off their beaks, which causes acute and chronic pain; hang them upside down by their legs; and then electrocute them—none of which is even remotely humane.

“Shoppers simply have no idea that turkeys certified as ‘humane’ are allowed to suffer in exactly the same ways as turkeys on any old factory farm,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on the FTC to protect consumers from thinking that they are buying humanely treated birds when the birds could have been forced to endure the misery of intensive confinement, painful mutilations, electrocution, and more.”

Butterball has a long history of abusing turkeys. During a PETA investigation at a Butterball slaughterhouse in Ozark, Ark., investigators documented, among other abuses, that Butterball workers punched and stomped on live turkeys and slammed them against walls. Butterball workers grind up live baby turkeys and mutilate turkeys’ beaks and toes—cruelty that does not violate industry or AHC standards.

AHC producers do not need to meet all the AHC standards to obtain certification and the right to stamp the AHC label on their products, and no standard prohibits AHC-labeled turkeys from being bred to grow such unnaturally large upper bodies that their legs become crippled under the weight. PETA also notes in its complaint that deliberate abuse of turkeys, including kicking and throwing them, does not necessarily result in failing an audit or the AHC certification process. AHC-labeled turkeys may also end up at the same slaughterhouses as industry-standard turkeys, where they are shackled upside down, are lowered into electrified water, have their throats slit, and are plunged into scalding-hot water to remove their feathers.

PETA is urging the FTC to act promptly because of the high number of consumers who may be misled at this time of year. An estimated 736 million pounds of turkey are eaten on Thanksgiving Day, and about 25 percent of turkeys consumed at Thanksgiving are sold by Butterball.

For more information, please visit or PETA’s blog .

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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