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PETA, rock and roll star protest at Salt Lake City McDonald's


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SALT LAKE CITY -- The fight over conditions for animals in food-processing plants came to Utah Monday. A high-profile advocacy group enlisted the help of a rock and roll hall-of-framer to promote a campaign to get McDonald's to change its slaughter standards.

It was definitely a scene at the McDonald's franchise near 200 South and 700 East as rocker Chrissie Hynde, leader of the band The Pretenders, and a random group of fans greeted customers with a "Chicken McCruelty Unhappy Meal" and a boycott message.

"If people are still going to McDonald's, can McDonald's stop torturing these beautiful animals that they're making their profits out of?" Hynde asked.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims McDonald's suppliers use an outdated slaughter method, often causing birds to suffer broken wings and legs, to have their throats cut while conscious and scalded to death in de-feathering tanks.

"They're not heeding the advice of their own humane advisory panel, and they're continuing to do these unspeakable things to these chickens," said PETA Vice President Dan Matthews.

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The rock band, the Pretenders, led by lead singer Chrissie Hynde, gained notoriety in the 1980's for hits like "Back on the Chain Gang," "Middle of the Road," and "I'll Stand by You." The band has seen much turnover since it began in 1978, partially due to drug-related deaths to two original band members (James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon). Hynde is the only constant member of the band. She is a vegetarian, a well known animal rights activist and avid supporter of PETA.
"So, we're back!" Hynde added. The corporation calls PETA's accusations inaccurate. It says it "expects humane treatment of animals by suppliers."

PETA prefers the "controlled atmosphere" method used in Europe, which first renders the animals unconscious by depriving them of oxygen. They say it stops the worst abuses.

McDonald's corporate social responsibility vice president, Bob Langbert, issued a statement, saying: "Today, in the U.S., there are no large-scale chicken producers that currently use the CAS method, therefore demands to purchase chickens from this method to meet McDonald's supply needs are not viable."

Customers KSL News spoke to seemed sympathetic to the company.

"It's not very convincing to me," said Salem, Utah, resident Chase Palfreyman. "I deal a lot with animals, kind of come from a farm. So, most of what I've seen about slaughter has been pretty humane."

Salt Lake City resident Paul Cammack said, "You know they have to get their meat from somewhere, and they don't necessarily decide how that slaughter house is going to treat their chickens before they serve them to McDonald's."

PETA says it plans to take its message elsewhere. It plans to put up billboards for this campaign around the country.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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John Daley

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