People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been reaching into record racks recently to recruit spokespeople for its cause, and the group can now add the Black Eyed Peas and Pharrell Williams to its A-list supporters.
The Black Eyed Peas have joined critics of Kentucky Fried Chicken, taking the company to task for their treatment of birds. In a letter to be sent to KFC parent company Yum! Brands on Friday, the Los Angeles group urged KFC to improve the life of birds raised and killed for the restaurant's food supply.
The Peas' letter, written on behalf of PETA, lists grievances and makes suggestions that would "end the most horrific forms of abuse suffered by chickens." To address the problem of drugging and breeding birds "so that they grow so quickly they can barely stand and are in constant
pain from splintered limbs," Fergie and Taboo suggest breeding leaner, healthier chickens. Instead of using "poorly-trained, underpaid workers," the bandmembers suggest switching to "humane machines" to gather birds for transport. And they propose that KFC adopt controlled-atmosphere killing to prevent birds "from being scalded and slaughtered while fully conscious."
PETA has urged KFC to adopt the improvements as part of what they call their Kentucky Fried Cruelty Campaign. Richard Pryor, Pamela Anderson, Russell Simmons, Chrissie Hynde and Paul McCartney are among the celebs who've contributed to the campaign, either by writing letters or by starring in a series of anti-KFC ads and billboards.
In response to the letter, KFC issued a statement saying that "enough is enough."
"Like the United States government, we will not negotiate with corporate terrorists," KFC spokesperson Bonnie Warschauer said. "PETA has disparaged our brand and misrepresented the truth about our responsible industry-leading animal-welfare standards. KFC is committed to the humane treatment of chickens."
The chain's Web site addresses the overall concern in a section called "Animal Welfare Program." While asserting that KFC itself does not own or operate any poultry or processing plants, KFC's policy states that their suppliers "must not use hormones or steroids for any purpose, including to promote growth in their chickens." The site also states that KFC's parent company has formed an Animal Welfare Advisory Council to develop guidelines and audit programs for their suppliers.
Pharrell is also throwing his support behind PETA. Williams has recorded an answering-machine message users can download at PETA's Web site (peta2.com). "The person you're leaving this message for wants you to check out peta2.com and be kind to animals — and so do we," Pharrell says in the message.
This story was updated 02.23.04 at 12:10 p.m. EST