A group of animal rightists, including the Humane Society of the United States and other such advocates, have filed a suit in federal court against USDA. The effort is designed to challenge the poultry exclusion within the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. It currently requires that livestock be rendered unconscious or killed before they are butchered.

Filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the lawsuit argues that the electrical-stunning methods in use today actually injure birds and leave then conscious. This, the activists say, increases the prospect of food-borne infections to spread to humans. They further contend that birds ingest feces during processing. HSUS advocates using gas stunning or ensuring that birds are killed before they are further processed.

National Chicken Council released a statement that pointed out that the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act only and clearly applies to livestock such as cattle, but that the poultry industry follows humane practices at the production and processing levels. "We believe the suit is without merit and is little more than a publicity stunt," NCC officials stated in a news release.

Meatingplace.com, National Chicken Council