Undercover video again catches Butterball workers severely abusing turkeys, says Mercy for AnimalsPosted: November 14, 2012
By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, animal protection group Mercy for Animals said it conducted its second undercover video investigation of Butterball and found much the same that it did earlier this year—severe and extremely unappetizing abuse and neglect of the birds.
Scene after scene of the secretly-taped and disturbing video shot in October shows workers at various North Carolina farms operated by the world’s largest producer of turkey meat kicking, stomping on, and violently throwing the animals whose meat will soon sit on millions of Americans’ plates.
Many turkeys are filmed as they bleed and suffer from various injuries and wounds including broken bones and punctured eyes, with no veterinary attention, simply “left to die,” according to the narration.
At one point the video catches MFA’s undercover investigator and one of the workers in dialogue:
Investigator: “That’s all the way through his skin.”
Worker: “Oh, hell yeah. We’ve seen them with maggots in them before.”
Worker: “Hell, yeah.”
Worker: “Damn right. Nasty shit.”
A media release from MFA states: “As this investigation illustrates, the lives of turkeys in Butterball’s factory farms remain brutal and filled with fear, violence, and prolonged suffering. While wild turkeys are sleek, agile, and able to fly, Butterball’s turkeys have been selectively bred to grow so large, so quickly, that many of them suffer from painful bone defects, hip joint lesions, crippling foot and leg deformities, and fatal heart attacks. Due to the company’s lack of meaningful animal welfare policies, training, or procedures, Butterball continues to subject countless turkeys to immeasurable cruelty and neglect each year.”
The statement goes on to quote Dr. Greg Burkett, an avian veterinarian at North Carolina State University who, after the previous MFA investigation, accompanied law enforcement during a 2011 raid on Butterball. “The abuses shown in this video are identical to the abuses documented in last year’s Butterball investigation, which led to criminal cruelty to animals charges and convictions,” said Burkett. “These behaviors are cruel, inhumane, and injurious to the birds. I am appalled at the disrespect these workers have toward the lives of other living creatures.”
MFA executive director Nathan Runkle added, “Butterball has once again been caught in the act of subjecting animals to horrific cruelty and violence and should be held criminally accountable.”
A previous MFA investigation at another of Butterball’s intensive large-scale farms in North Carolina resulted in the felony conviction of one of the workers, Brian Douglas. The group called the case “groundbreaking”–the first such cruelty to animals conviction “related to birds used for food production in U.S. history.”
“Please reject animal abuse each time you sit down to eat by choosing a vegetarian diet,” concludes the video’s narration.
Butterball offices do not open until 10:00 a.m. Eastern time and thus the company could not be reached for comment while this article was prepared. A search of Butterball’s website did not yield any information or response regarding MFA’s allegations. Please check this page again for possible comment from Butterball.
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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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