Review panel finds inaccuracies in undercover video

by Erica Shaffer
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A video review panel assembled by the Center for Food Integrity said a recent undercover video taken at a Wayne Farms poultry processing facility isn't what it seems.

Mercy For Animals claims that a secretly recorded the video at a Wayne Farms poultry facility in North Carolina depicts chickens being violently dumped, shackled, cut open and then scalded alive. The video is narrated by actress Pamela Anderson.

But the CFI expert panel disagreed with MFA's interpretation of the events captured in the video.

“I don’t see horrific animal abuse in this video,” said Dr. Chuck Hofacre a veterinarian with the Univ. of Georgia. “USDA inspectors are on site. If they see abuse they have authority to stop things.

“If people want to eat meat, we must kill animals,” he added. “Some of the process isn’t camera-friendly – it’s not pretty. There are systems and processes in place to make sure it’s carried out in a humane manner and I did not see animal abuse in this video.”

MFA urged its supporters to pressure Wayne Farms to “adopt new policies preventing animal cruelty on farms and at slaughter.” The group said Wayne Farms supplies poultry products to Gordon Foodservice, a leading foodservice distributor in Grand Rapids, Mich. The group identified PF Chang’s, Red Robin and other foodservice operators as clients of Gordon Foodservice.

Additional members of the expert panel include Dr. Michael Hulet, an animal scientist at Pennsylvania State Univ.; and, Dr. Ruth Newberry, an ethicist at Washington State Univ. and the Norwegian Univ. of Life Sciences.

Addressing the claim that sick and diseased birds are dead upon arriving at the facility, Dr. Newberry said the video lacked context.

“Early in the video, two chickens are shown lying on their backs on a pile of feathers. One chicken appears to be dead and the other is breathing. The angle of the filming does not allow the viewer to see where the scene was filmed, or what transpired immediately before and after this brief clip. Any chickens found to be unfit for travel during catching at the chicken house, or discovered to be unfit on arrival at the processing plant, should be promptly euthanized and checked to ensure that they are dead prior to disposal.”

Dr. Hulet also disputed charges the birds were violently dumped from transport crates. He noted that the positioning the transport crate was rougher than desired, but the birds didn’t appear injured or distressed.

Certainly, the company would not want the birds injured or the equipment damaged. This method of unloading birds from the transport crates seen in the video actually has lower wing bruises/breaks than other methods,” he added.
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