Butterball workers suspended for allegedly abusing turkeysPosted: November 14, 2012
By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris
After an undercover video filmed by an animal protection group last month allegedly showed workers kicking, dragging, stomping on, and violently throwing turkeys at several North Carolina large-scale farms operated by Butterball, the company said it has “suspended the associates in question” and “initiated an internal investigation.”
A Mercy for Animals (MFA) investigator shot the secret footage while posing as a worker for the world’s largest producer of turkey meat, gathering images of severe abuse and neglect that are nearly identical to scenes that the group captured on film at other Butterball farms earlier in the year, and that resulted in a felony conviction for one of the workers.
Butterball, which MFA says “is responsible for 30 percent of the turkeys killed for Thanksgiving in the United States,” provided the following statement in response to the allegations:
“Butterball is aware of the video released today by Mercy for Animals, and we take any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously. As has been our long-standing policy, we have a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse. Any employee found to have violated our animal care and well-being guidelines, as well as any employee who witnessed abuse and failed to report it, will be terminated. Butterball’s guidelines are based on guidelines developed by the National Turkey Federation that have been approved by animal well-being experts including Dr. Joy Mench at University of California at Davis, Dr. Janice Swanson from Michigan State University and Dr. Gail Golab at the American Veterinary Medical Association, among others.
“When we learn of any instances of animal mistreatment, we take immediate corrective action to suspend workers involved, conduct a swift investigation and terminate their employment with the company. Upon learning of these new concerns, we immediately initiated an internal investigation and suspended the associates in question. Pending the completion of that investigation, Butterball will then make a determination on additional actions including immediate termination for those involved.
“Animal care and well-being is central to the operations of our company, and we remain committed to the ethical and responsible care of our turkey flocks.”
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Katerina Lorenzatos Makris is a career journalist, author, and editor. Credits include hundreds of articles for regional wire services and for outlets such as National Geographic Traveler, The San Francisco Chronicle, Travelers’ Tales, NBC’s Petside.com, and Examiner.com (Animal Policy Examiner), a teleplay for CBS-TV, a short story for The Bark magazine, and 17 novels for Avon, E.P. Dutton, Simon and Schuster, and other major publishers.
Together with coauthor Shelley Frost, Katerina wrote a step-by-step guide for hands-on, in-the-trenches dog rescue, Your Adopted Dog: Everything You Need to Know About Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need (The Lyons Press).
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