SPRINGDALE, Ark. – After announcing the suspension and termination of several employees resulting from initial reports of animal cruelty at a contract chicken production facility in Virginia earlier this week, Tyson Foods officials announced additional action on Aug. 9. Initial undercover video footage was sent only to three county attorneys this past week, and the video was “finally made available for us to view on Tuesday [Aug. 9],” according to a statement from Tyson. Vice President of Sustainable Food Production for Tyson, Christine Daugherty, Ph.D., expressed outrage over the actions depicted in the footage and the company announced swift action in response to the perpetrators of the animal cruelty.
“We do not tolerate animal abuse and have fired 10 people who were members of this crew,” she said, adding that this action was obvious once the company was given the opportunity to review the video.
In addition to the firings, the company is working with law enforcement officials who will determine if the offenders – all trained in proper animal handling practices – will be criminally charged for their actions. Also, the company announced that beak modification, which has historically been a common practice in the poultry industry to ensure proper feeding between male and female birds, has been discontinued, effective immediately at the two remaining facilities where it was utilized.
“Animals in our care deserve to be treated humanely,” Daugherty said. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that everyone who works for our company behaves properly. Our management team is dedicated to continue fostering a culture of proper animal handling.”
Tyson officials are also reviewing its animal-handling policies with employees who work with live animals and a video conference is scheduled with the managers of production facilities to allow senior managers of chicken production operations to reiterate the company’s commitment to its animal welfare policy.
In a statement, Tyson pointed out that while it has established training and auditing programs designed to ensure proper animal handling practices, more efforts are needed.
“We’re evaluating additional steps we can take to make sure animal well-being procedures are being followed throughout our chicken operations,” the company statement said. “Once we complete our investigation into this matter, we intend to implement any measures necessary to protect the well-being of the birds being raised for our company.”