050503 Applebee's Says No to New Poultry Method

May 15, 2005

Applebee's International Inc. shareholders rejected a proposal that the dining chain study the way its suppliers kill chickens.

At the company's annual meeting at the Overland Park Marriott hotel, fewer than 6 percent of shares voted supported the proposal from the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA representative David Benjamin said suppliers to Applebee's and other companies dumped chickens onto conveyor belts, causing broken bones.

“They are then snapped upside-down by their legs into metal shackles and run through an electrified stun bath that gives them painful electric shocks and immobilizes them but fails to render them insensible to pain,” he read from a statement at the meeting. “Many are still conscious when their throats are slit or when they are dunked into tanks of scalding-hot water for feather removal.”

The company recommended shareholders vote against the proposal, noting in its proxy that all its suppliers adhered to the Agriculture Department's Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and that it's also using the consulting services of “one of the nation's most recognized leaders in animal welfare to assist the company in strengthening its animal welfare program.”

PETA is proposing Applebee's and others turn to suppliers that use what is called controlled-atmosphere killing, viewed by groups such as PETA as the “most stress-free, humane method of killing poultry ever developed.”

On Wednesday, Benjamin attended the McDonald's Corp. annual meeting in Oak Brook, Ill. PETA had put forth the same shareholder proposal but pulled the proposal after McDonald's agreed to issue a feasibility study, which should be available in June.

Applebee's spokeswoman Laurie Ellison said the company was pleased with the result of the vote, but it also wanted to see McDonald's report on the issue.

Keith Parks, an Applebee's shareholder, said after the meeting: “I can't imagine that Applebee's is really cruel to chickens, but I hope that if this is a real concern, that they look at the available benefits.”

Among the proposals approved at the meeting were the election of board members Erline Belton and Eric L. Hansen.


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