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Old July 25th, 2003, 01:30 AM
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Paul McCartney blasts KFC in ad


LOUISVILLE, Ky. Music legend Paul McCartney is joining PETA's battle against fast-food giant KFC, taking out a full page ad in the city's biggest newspaper to accuse the company of mistreating chickens.

"If KFC paid for dogs or cats to be treated the way these unfortunate chickens are treated, they could be charged with cruelty to animals," McCartney, a longtime vegetarian, says in the open letter to KFC that's to appear Thursday in the Courier-Journal in Louisville, KFC's corporate headquarters.

"These remarkable animals are deserving of at least a little kindness."

KFC has long denied claims from PETA, the animal rights group, that it mistreats chickens. A spokesman for KFC could not be immediately reached for comment today.

McCartney's letter to KFC's David Novak, the company's chief executive officer, challenges him to improve conditions for millions of KFC birds.

PETA claims KFC raises 750 million chickens each year in overcrowded, feces-filled sheds on "factory farms" and kills them in inhumane ways for KFC restaurants.

McCartney and PETA are calling on KFC to replace electric stunning and throat-slitting with painless gas killing, to phase out the forced rapid growth of chickens, and to implement automated chicken-catching, which they say would reduce the high incidence of bruising and broken wings and legs.

In May, the company said in a news release it would adopt "comprehensive industry-leading guidelines and audits for the humane raising and handling of poultry."

It also said KFC has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review a proposal on the feasibility of gas-killing chickens following PETA's suggestion.

McCartney's letter is the latest volley in PETA's so-called Kentucky Fried Cruelty Campaign.

Last week, musician Chrissie Hynde was among several people arrested while protesting at a KFC in Paris, where she was performing.

Earlier this month, PETA filed a lawsuit against KFC for allegedly making deceptive statements about the treatment of its birds.
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