Amid all the bad news in the world, there have been a few bright points lately. Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT), for example, recently made health-conscious people smile by announcing plans to reduce calories in some of its foods, and limit some of its portion sizes, among other things. In what is arguably even bigger news, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) announced plans to phase out the use of antibiotics in the meat it uses, worldwide.

What's next? Well, perhaps the lives (and deaths) of our feathered friends the chickens will soon improve. At least, that's the aim of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has just sued KFC (the franchise formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) and its parent company, Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM), for allegedly misrepresenting on the KFC website how their chickens are treated.

At issue is KFC's statement that it aims to ensure, through its chicken treatment guidelines, "that all birds are handled humanely and suffer no pain." According to PETA, though, KFC buys chickens that have been raised and slaughtered in inhumane (though common and legally permitted) ways.

A few months ago, KFC did unveil plans to institute kinder and gentler chicken-breeding, hatching, and growing practices. PETA's response at the time was that the changes don't sufficiently reduce the suffering of the fowl.

The sad life of ordinary chickens in America has long been documented, and you can read some alarming accounts here. For another perspective, visit the website of the other PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals).

Through previous campaigns, PETA and other activists have been successful in changing how some big companies do business. Stay tuned to see if this lawsuit ultimately results in some additional improvements. Especially if you happen to be a chicken.