Foster Farms chicken product
An undercover video depicts animal cruelty at a Foster Farms facility with American Humane Certified status.

FRESNO, Calif. – Foster Farms has launched an internal investigation into handling practices at its Fresno, Calif. facility after an animal welfare group released a video showing employees abusing birds.

Mercy For Animals said the footage was shot between April and June at a Foster Farms processing facility and at one of the company’s poultry farms in the area. MFA filed a criminal complaint with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department which is investigating the allegations. Foster Farms pledged its cooperation.

“Foster Farms has been made aware of an online video showing company employees in Fresno, California, mishandling birds in their care,” the company said in a statement. “We have already begun a comprehensive investigation to determine the source and location, including a fully cooperative effort with all appropriate authorities. The behavior of the individuals in this video is inappropriate and counter to our stringent animal welfare standards, procedures and policies.”

Foster Farms added that the company’s employees receive annual training in animal welfare policies and proper handling of birds. Employees found to have violated the company’s animal welfare policies and procedures is subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal, the company said.

MFA also took aim at the American Humane Association which administers the American Humane Certified animal welfare auditing program for farms and ranches. Mercy For Animals accused the association of “rubber-stamping” animal cruelty at “factory farms.”

Speaking to the Associated Press, Mark Stubis, chief communications officer for the association, said the group has stringent animal welfare standards and is dedicated to humane treatment of all animals.