The UK Vegan company VFC, which produces vegan fast food made of wheat, has exposed a propaganda video of the giant chicken fast food company KFC by investigating a UK farm featured in it. In December 2021, YouTuber Niko Omilana visited a farm operated by the meat company Moy Park, one of the chicken flesh producers that sell chicken to KFC, as part of the pro-meat film Behind the Bucket, paid by KFC. The very same farm was visited in February 2022 by undercover investigators working on behalf of VFC, and they found a very different picture. They sound birds kept in severe overcrowding conditions with little fresh straw, and they found sick, lame, and dead birds.

Matthew Glover, VFC’s co-founder, said: “This is the most disingenuous marketing campaign we have seen for a long time. This portrayal of chicken farming is utterly misleading and seeks to reassure the public that all is well, when nothing could be further from the truth.”

VFC, a company growing in the UK and internationally, published the footage from the farm. In the video, Glover says “KFC chose to bring Niko down here when the birds were really small and cute. They were maybe 15 to 20 days old. We’ve come back when they’re 33 days old.” Showing images of birds lying on the floor sick or dead, he adds “they’ve got to the point where they can’t stand up anymore because their skeletons are so immature. They just can’t handle the weight. So, they get to a position where they just can’t walk anymore. They can’t feed… Each bird has about as much room as an iPad or an A4 sheet of paper. How is that better than a cage?”

Prof Andrew Knight, from the University of Winchester’s Centre for Animal Welfare, said to the Guardian after watching the footage that the birds appeared to be held at “very high stocking density, within a vast shed, which included little to no environmental enrichment…severe crowding and barren environment meant these birds had very little room to move and to exercise highly motivated natural behaviours, such as foraging and exploring.” Paul Roger, a vet founder member of the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association, said the birds in the footage were exhibiting “behavioural signs of stress such as feather pecking and topical skin infection.”

Stuart Jones, director of Upload agency representing Niko Omilana, said: “Whilst we take these allegations very seriously and will speak with KFC about these claims, the filming that our client took part in, accurately reported the conditions he saw and experienced on the day.” It is not known whether Niko Omilana was misled and deceived by the farm, and his reputation damaged by KFC, or he was aware of the purpose of the film.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.