Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest producers of chicken, beef, and pork products, announced major changes to its animal welfare policies yesterday.
The company, headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, said it has installed video cameras in 33 of its poultry farms to monitor the treatment of the animals. The move comes after an undercover video released last August showed egregious animal cruelty at several Tyson facilities. The videos showed workers crushing birds, swinging them by limbs or wings, and other cruel measures. The video led to the termination of ten employees.
“Ensuring the well-being of the animals in our care is a core part of our broader sustainability journey and these initiatives are the latest examples of our leadership in this important area,” Justin Whitmore, chief sustainability officer for Tyson Foods, said in a statement.
The video system, now the third-largest of its kind in the U.S., will be reviewed by off-site auditors well-versed in animal welfare, to ensure the relationship between handlers and animals is in the best interest of the birds. After the auditors review the video feeds, reports are sent daily to help the facilities maintain humane practices and address issues in a timely manner.
“Animal welfare is part science, part compassion, and it requires management commitment to learning, training and constant monitoring,” said Dr. Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University and a member of Tyson Foods’ Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel.
The company will also move to more humane killing method called controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS), testing the system at two facilities this year.
“We’re also piloting other potential innovations as we become the world’s most sustainable producer of protein,” said Whitmore.
Tyson’s commitment to a more sustainable and ethical food system also ventures outside of traditional livestock production. The company made headlines last October when it became a five percent stakeholder in Beyond Meat, the El Segundo, Calif., plant protein startup.
“We’re enthusiastic about this investment, which gives us exposure to a fast-growing segment of the protein market, “ Tyson Foods’ Executive Vice President of Strategy and New Ventures & President of Foodservice, Monica McGurk, said in a statement last year. “It meets our desire to offer consumers choices and to consider how we can serve an ever-growing and diverse global population, while remaining focused on our core prepared foods and animal protein businesses.”
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