Last year, KFC teamed up with YouTuber Niko Omilana on a short film called “Behind the Bucket.” The video—which followed Omilana on a tour of one of the fast-food giant’s suppliers’ farms—showed chickens with fresh straw, perches, and a reasonable amount of space.
The footage, hosted on the news and entertainment website Joe, has been seen more than one million times. But one brand is saying it’s far from accurate.
According to vegan chicken producer VFC, KFC is misleading consumers to believe that the welfare on its farm is much better than it actually is. The brand claims it paid a follow-up visit to the same farm used in KFC’s promotional video and came across a very different situation.
VFC states it witnessed very little straw on the ground, which was “sodden with animal feces.” It also reported plastic-wrapped bales, perches that were unavailable to the birds, dead chickens on the floor, and a number of sick and injured animals.
A ‘misleading’ representation
After VFC’s co-founder Matthew Glover visited the farm, he claimed that KFC’s “Behind the Bucket” marketing campaign was “disingenuous” and “utterly misleading.”
He said in a statement: “People have a right to know how filthy and crowded these farms are; how birds suffer and die right there in the sheds; and that the bins overflow with the carcasses of the poor animals who could not survive even a few weeks in such conditions.”
“We were not surprised to find that things were this bad because this is the everyday reality of intensive chicken farming,” he added. “But it leaves us with just one question: did the farm lie to KFC about its welfare standards, or is KFC lying to the rest of us?”
The realities of chicken farming
Every week, around 20 million chickens are slaughtered for their meat in the UK. While many people believe the country has “high welfare,” the vast majority are kept in factory farms.
The majority of these animals are kept in cramped, unhygienic conditions. While VFC’s exposé is shocking, it’s not the only investigation to show the reality of the industry.
Last year, Viva! discovered “abhorrent conditions” on farms supplying some of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains. For example, one expedition found that one of Tesco’s suppliers was cramming 30,000 birds into one single shed, leaving each animal “desperate for space.”
At the time, Lex Rigby, Viva!’s head of investigations, said: “Our insatiable desire for cheap chicken has led to an alarming rise in US-style mega-farms that prioritize profit over welfare.”