LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An animal rights group sued the California Department of Food and Agriculture on Monday, seeking to end the electric stunning of chickens before they are slaughtered.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claims in the lawsuit that up to one-third of the birds, about 7 million a year, are inadequately stunned by the procedure, leaving them conscious and able to feel pain when their throats are slit.
"By permitting electric stunning, the California Department of Food and Agriculture sentences tens of millions of birds each year to excruciating pain and terrible deaths,” PETA’s general counsel, Jeffrey Kerr, said in a statement.
"PETA’s lawsuit seeks to end this illegal killing — and initiate sweeping changes in an industry that currently slits conscious birds’ throats and scalds them to death,” Kerr said.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, argues that electric stunning of chickens violates the state's humane slaughter law, which requires that animals be rendered unconscious and unable to feel pain before they are killed.
A spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture declined to comment, saying the agency's lawyers had not yet reviewed the lawsuit.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)