A new undercover video investigation released by Los Angeles-based animal welfare group Mercy for Animals, shows alleged animal cruelty at Fresno, Calif.-based Foster Farms locations earlier this year.
In the video, narrated by 91-year-old Bob Barker, the Emmy Award-winning former host of “The Price is Right,” employees of Foster Farms, the largest poultry producer on the West Coast, are filmed abusing chickens. Some employees are seen punching and slamming animals to the ground, scalding live birds in hot water feather-removal tanks, and slamming the animals into shackles, potentially breaking legs.
Mercy for Animals was able to obtain statements from several veterinarians and animal welfare experts who validated the animal abuse claims. Dr. Bernard E. Rollin at Colorado State said the videos demonstrated “sick and injured animals” with “wounds and lesions” that are “not fresh."
Upon release of the video, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims sent detectives to the location to further investigate. According to Food Safety News, Foster Farms issued a statement saying it will cooperate with the sheriff’s office and will also conduct its own “comprehensive investigation” of the abuse allegations.
A Foster Farms spokesman said, “The behavior of the individuals in this video is inappropriate and counter to our stringent animal welfare standards, procedures, and policies.”
Foster Farms has actually received humane certification for its animal treatment from the Washington D.C.-based Animal Humane Association, a group that is now also under attack by Mercy for Animals for giving that humane status to Foster Farms. The company received humane certification in 2013.
Foster Farms is at the center of a food safety investigation over a wide-reaching salmonella outbreak connected to its chicken. More than one million pounds of chicken were recalled over the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The outbreak led to a recently proposed bill that would give the USDA automatic recall authority in order to help prevent sicknesses and deaths related to the foodborne pathogens. In the wake of the outbreak, Foster Farms announced it would move away from antibiotics in its chicken.
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Chicken image via Shutterstock