Perdue has committed to converting all its poultry-slaughtering plants to CAS systems to replace the more traditional method, electrical stunning. With CAS, increasing levels of carbon dioxide sedate the chickens before causing an irreversible loss of consciousness prior to processing.
"Since implementing the CAS system, we're seeing measurable poultry welfare improvements throughout the process, as well as improvements in product quality. Our technology uses both carbon dioxide and oxygen in the mix, which creates less stress on the birds as they go through the chambers," said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production at Perdue. "The difference is night and day."
Perdue's Milford facility supplies 1.2 million organic and no-antibiotics-ever chickens per week for Perdue’s brands including its Perdue Harvestland and Coleman Organic lines.
In addition to the CAS system, Perdue is investing in a live-bird handling system. In this process, covered trucks will transport the birds in crates to an enclosed, temperature-controlled, “de-stressing” area prior to processing, the company said. “The transport crates are then transferred to the CAS system, so the birds stay calm and are never handled when conscious. This new process, the first of its kind in the US, will be fully operational in fall 2018.”
“We’ve been working very hard the last few years to improve the conditions under which our animals are raised,” said Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms.