Animal-rights group accuses Bell & Evans of cruelty

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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FREDERICKSBURG, Pa. – The owner of Bell & Evans, a Fredericksburg chicken processor, refuted claims of animal cruelty lodged by an animal-rights group that released an undercover video the group claims depicts inhumane treatment of chicks.

A member of Compassion Over Killing worked undercover inside a hatchery owned by Bell & Evans. The group claims its video depicts birds unfit for processing being dumped into a grinder while fully conscious, and dead birds being left in baskets with live birds.

Bell & Evans processes organic antibiotic-free chickens for sale to retailers such as Whole Foods and Wegmans. The company’s animal-welfare and handling standards are featured on its website. Scott Sechler, owner and chairman of Bell & Evans, responded to the claims in a letter posted to the website.

"It has come to my attention that the radical Washington-based activist group TryVeg/COK has planted an undercover agent at our hatchery with the goal to challenge Bell & Evans leadership in humane treatment of animals. The TryVeg mole was planted in our hatchery for two weeks with the goal to stage an attention-grabbing media show.

"Over my 40 years as a chicken farmer, I always strive to be the leading advocate of humane treatment for all animals,” he added. “At our hatchery, we've never strayed from humane animal best practices. It is our first priority and responsibility to euthanize only the sick and lame birds that would otherwise suffer.
"Most recently Bell & Evans installed the Slow Induction Anesthesia (SIA) system, endorsed by Temple Grandin as the most humane process in the world," he continued.

Sechler went on to invite the leaders of Compassion Over Killing to a face-to-face meeting to discuss their concerns. Bell & Evans employees must sign an agreement to abide by the company's humane animal-handling policy and to report any violations of policy to a member of management.
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READER COMMENTS (3)

By M. Roberts 11/22/2013 2:07:30 PM
Tom - thanks for your comment. Do you agree that COK is a "radical" group? I've been following these groups - PETA, Mercy For Animals, and COK - for a while, and I'm surprised Whole Food would buy from someone who publicly denounces COK as radical. Moreover, you insist that these groups "get their facts properly done before making sensational headlines," but 99% of the time these groups are merely showing us footage, which we can then judge for ourselves. Take Mercy For Animals recent investigation into a Tyson pig farm that supplies Walmart (www.walmartcruelty.org) - this is no different from what COK does. They abuse and torture animals, it's plain as day. Whether it's "legal" or "accepted" by the industry (such as many other terrible things once were) is irrelevant if the vast majority of us find it abhorrent and unacceptable from an ethical standpoint. We're torturing billions of animals, whether grinding them up alive, or slamming them on the concrete, and keeping them confined their entire lives, but you're worried about the CEO of a factory farm? Look, don't you agree that treating animals humanely and producing cheap meat are totally irreconcilable goals?

By TammyParnell 10/17/2013 12:15:32 AM
Linking meat to cancer quit eating it till its humanely slaughtered enough land to let them live a little bit of a life, pure laziness

By Tom ambrosia 10/16/2013 4:44:43 PM
I can state for a fact having conducted numerous Animal Humane Audits at B&E, that Scott and his team have done a very good job. as for the Hatchery, the DVM's have told me a chick who was injured, not meeting specs was humanely put down using the macerator. When i 1st saw this I had a fit and could not believe this was an acceptable practice. but the DVM at B&E as well as other firms all stated this was an acceptable method of killing. I still do not buy it and feel any animal should be gassed to point of death. seeing any animal, baby chick only a few hrs from being hatched killed in such a manner should be outlawed. BUT DVMS and the AVMA states this is acceptable and I do believe AMERICAN HUMANE States this is an acceptable practice. I can tell you Scott is a very caring CEO and when I have audited his plant years ago there were some employees who had to be removed an retrained in how to properly shackle the birds, stunning and back up kill. Scott got involved in these issues right away and when I would come back un-announced, you saw the improvements of training of the staff. As for poultry companies, I feel Bell and Evans is one of the finest firms in the USA and I have seen more poultry plants, hatcheries, chicken farms in 45 yrs than I care to note. I am for PROPER HUMANE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS and all I ask is these groups PETA etc, get their facts properly done before making sensational headlines.