Butterball responds to abuse allegations
June 4, 2014
by Meat&Poultry Staff
RAEFORD, NC – Butterball LLC launched an internal investigation following the release of an undercover video taken at a hatchery in Raeford, NC, and allegations of animal abuses.
The group Mercy For Animals claimed responsibility for the video. The organization submitted the video to local law enforcement authorities. MFA alleges that turkey poults were "routinely mutilated without painkillers, ground up alive in a macerating machine and carelessly thrown, dropped and mishandled by Butterball workers".
Officials at Butterball reviewed the video and engaged its Animal Care and Well-Being Advisory Council to verify that activities in the video adhered to established and approved standard practices for poult handling.
“While experts agree the video does not depict any willful acts of negligence or mistreatment, Butterball does proactively search for continuous improvement opportunities and will provide additional training and education to hatchery associates on animal care and well-being policies to include proper poult handling, transferring methods and management of facility equipment,” the company said in a statement.
Butterball’s Animal Care and Well-Being Advisory Council includes third party animal care experts Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State Univ.; Dr. Jesse Grimes, North Carolina State Univ.; Dr. Michael Martin, North Carolina State Univ.; Dr. Joy Mench, Univ. of California-Davis; and Dr. Yvonne Thaxton, Univ. of Arkansas.
“The undercover hatchery video I reviewed did not depict any animal mistreatment,” said Mench. “As with any operational process, there is always room for learning and improvement, which is why our council encourages Butterball to continue its ongoing associate training programs to ensure top-notch turkey care.”
Butterball added in its statement that employees who handle live turkeys are trained and required to report instances or suspicions of animal abuse.
“All employees are trained thoroughly on hatchery operations and animal care and well-being policies, including signing a form acknowledging they will report any suspected animal mistreatment in order to address it immediately.”