OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP)--McDonald's Corp. is considering whether to require its processors to use a method for slaughtering poultry that animal rights groups say is more humane.

The fast-food giant said it is studying the possibility of "controlled atmosphere killing," in which chickens are put to sleep with an inert gas, such as nitrogen or argon.

McDonald's animal welfare council suggested a study of the newer method, said Bob Langert, McDonald's senior director of social responsibility. It would replace a slaughtering process in which chickens are hung by their legs on a moving conveyor line and pulled through an electrified vat of water.

"There has been very little study of this process as to impact on animal welfare," Langert said Dec. 29.

Some of McDonald's European suppliers already use the newer method, the Oak Brook-based company said. McDonald's will post the results of the study on its website by June 30, said Patricia Paul, senior director of corporate governance.

McDonald's move followed an announcement by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said it would submit a proposal on the issue for consideration by shareholders at McDonald's annual meeting.

PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said he hoped other restaurants would follow McDonald's example and consider switching slaughter methods.

PETA is seeking to have identical resolutions voted on by shareholders of Wendy's International Inc. and Applebee's International Inc.

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