Shocking undercover footage captured at one of America’s largest chicken companies has exposed some of the horrific reasons many US chickens need to be washed in bacteria-killing chlorine before going on sale.
A fierce row has erupted between MPs in recent weeks about the prospect of chlorinated chicken - which is a fifth cheaper than British chicken - hitting the UK’s shelves post-Brexit.
While 97% of American chicken is reportedly chlorinated, it is currently banned in the UK under EU rules over fears it incentivises lax hygiene and welfare protocols among farmers.
Now, a disturbing video released by the Humane Society of the United States has revealed that some chickens in America are living in cramped conditions among the rotting corpses of other dead birds.
The footage, taken by whistleblowers at US company Pilgrim’s Pride, shows other chickens so crippled by their own weight they are unable to walk, a consequence of being bred to grow too quickly.
North Carolina farmer Craig Watts told the Mail on Sunday that the chickens are so top heavy “it’s like two toothpicks sticking out of a grape”, with the birds forced to “spend 95% of their time sitting on the litter - a mixture of pine shavings and faecal matter”.
“Their flesh would rot and, when you have them crammed in so tight, they will walk over other birds if they want to get to the food or scratch the others and cause a wound. It is awful,” he added.
Other shots from the undercover footage - which was recorded at a contractor facility in Georgia and a slaughter house in Texas - show the rough way chickens are handled by workers.