SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Tyson Foods has recently tested a controlled atmosphere stunning (C.A.S.) system in a chicken processing plant as part of a study that was initiated by McDonald’s and also involved another poultry supplier, Keystone Foods. All parties were interested in comparing the C.A.S. system with the more widely used, low-voltage stunning systems used at most plants where chickens are slaughtered. But when MEATPOULTRY.com contacted McDonald’s for the results of the test, Lisa McComb, senior manager, corporate media relations, replied, "We are publicly releasing the report later in the week and can share more information at that time."

This is not the first time Tyson has been involved in C.A.S. testing, Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson told MEATPOULTRY.com. "As part of the company’s commitment to animal welfare, Tyson previously spent two years examining and testing the use of C.A.S.," he added. "Our previous research, which concluded in 2006, reached the same conclusion as the McDonald’s study: C.A.S. may be an acceptable alternative, but it is not currently more humane than conventional electrical stunning — which is the system currently used in Tyson plants."

Tyson continues to monitor changes in C.A.S. and other poultry-processing technologies, Mr. Mickelson said. "As previously announced, Tyson has committed $1.5 million to establish the Chair of Food Animal Well-being at the University of Arkansas, which will be involved in overseeing research and classes focused on the humane management and treatment of food animals," he added.

Tyson Foods has a long-standing commitment to the proper treatment of the animals the company depends on to operate, he continued. "Our commitment includes Tyson’s ‘Office of Animal Well-Being,’ which was established in 2003 to advise company executives on animal-welfare issues, coordinate animal-handling training and conduct animal-handling audits of our chicken, beef and pork plants," he added. "Audits at our chicken plants are conducted using protocols developed in conjunction with the National Chicken Council animal-welfare guidelines."

"As part of our long-standing commitment to animal well-being, we’ve conducted our own research into controlled atmosphere stunning and participated in McDonald’s recent feasibility study," said Dr. Kellye Pfalzgraf, who oversees the Tyson Foods’ Office of Animal Well-Being. "We have not found C.A.S. to be any more humane or effective than the conventional electrical stunning method. However, we will continue to monitor university research into this and other poultry processing technologies."