Protestors from the animals’ rights group Mercy for Animals gathered outside of Fred Meyer in downtown Portland Thursday as part of a multi-city tour to voice dissent against large food corporations they accuse of mistreating chickens.  

The protest was organized after a video surfaced showing chickens at a Foster Farms location allegedly being mistreated. Mercy for Animals called for an overhaul of Foster Farms’ system of processing chickens.

“We want Foster Farms to adopt a comprehensive animal welfare policy,” said Jeni Haines, national campaign coordinator with Mercy for Animals. “We want to decrease the number of birds who arrive to the slaughterhouse sick and injured, and change their killing systems to be more humane.”  

According to the group, chickens are currently unprotected by federal regulations, whereas other farm animals like cows are protected.

Officials at Foster Farms rejected the claims.

“It’s an interesting stunt they’re pulling because they decided to pull it on one of the top animal welfare companies in the nation. (Foster Farms is) the only certified American Humane company on the West Coast,” said Bill Mattos, president of the Northwest Chicken Council and West Coast representative of Foster Farms.  

Foster Farms was re-audited successfully by the American Humane Association after the videotaped incident went public. Farms must be in compliance with the animal welfare standards checklist — a 42-page document used during evaluations — to receive certification from the American Humane Association. 

Managers at Fred Meyer declined to comment on the protest, and referred OPB to a statement from Foster Farms.  In the statement, Foster Farms said the company does not tolerate any violations of its animal welfare policy, and that following the incident, the five individuals involved were fired.