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Entries in Chickens (3)

Monday
Apr162012

Kreider Farms Disputes Authenticity of Humane Society Video

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Pennsylvania egg producer featured in a recent ABC News report says undercover video released by the Humane Society and broadcast by ABC News that purports to show animal cruelty and unsanitary conditions at one of its facilities "could have been taped in any chicken house," and that new inspection reports show the company maintains high standards of cleanliness and animal welfare.

Last week, the Humane Society of the U.S. released video that it said had been shot in February and March by an undercover investigator at a Kreider Farms facility in Manheim, Pennsylvania. The footage, aired by ABC News on World News with Diane Sawyer, showed conditions that the HSUS characterized as "deplorable." The video shows dead birds left in cages with live birds, live birds trapped in cage wires and a floor thick with flies.

Unsanitary conditions in egg farms, especially a large insect or rodent population, can lead to a higher risk for a salmonella outbreak. ABC News has reported before on conditions at egg farms that can lead to public health concerns.

Kreider Farms, which supplies eggs for ShopRite grocery stores and other retailers in the Northeast, questioned the authenticity of the video, saying in a statement that "HSUS's video demonstrates no connection to Kreider Farms -- it could have been taped in any chicken house."

After ABC News provided Kreider Farms with pictures and video from the Humane Society showing workers wearing uniforms with a "Kreider Farms" logo, the company reaffirmed that it believed the video showed "no connection to Kreider Farms," and added: "HSUS's videos are designed to mislead viewers, and consumers should question how they are shot, edited and assembled. The still images and video footage of Kreider Farms workers, released by HSUS, provide no evidence of HSUS's allegations."

Ron Kreider, president and CEO of Kreider Farms, said the company produces a "high quality" and safe product. Kreider, whose family started the company in 1935, says what is depicted in the video is not representative of the company's mission. "Kreider Farms is one of the most highly respected, progressive egg companies in the U.S."

In statements to ABC News, Kreider Farms noted that the Manheim facility is one of its older facilities and that most of its egg production takes place in newer, modernized facilities.

A company spokesperson also pointed to three separate inspections conducted last week, after the company learned of the HSUS video and before the ABC News report aired, that indicate "zero evidence of any type of animal abuse or food safety concern."

Representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture visited the facility on two occasions last week. In a letter to Ron Kreider dated Friday, state Agriculture Secretary George Greig said that a veterinarian for the department determined that sanitation, rodent and insect control were all above minimum standards under an industry program designed to reduce the risk of salmonella.

"All practices, procedures and conditions that our veterinarian observed were consistent with industry best practices pertaining to animal health and food-borne pathogen risk minimization," wrote Greig. "There was every indication of a high and consistent standard of flock health management in this facility."

Greig noted, however, that the department "does not have jurisdiction on animal welfare issues."

Two additional inspections -- by the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Center and by Penn State -- did not find any animal welfare issues, with one stating the Kreider hens "are being cared for in line with generally approved poultry practices."

Kreider Farms also says the company has never had an outbreak of salmonella at its facilities. A spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration, which inspects egg farms, told ABC News that the Manheim facility was inspected in January and two of eight samples were positive for Salmonella enteritis, but that no enforcement action was taken since the company voluntarily depopulated and cleaned the facility. There was no indication that any eggs were contaminated.

Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society, says the undercover video his groups investigator shot is "irrefutable" and that the Humane Society released both edited and unedited footage on its website. "[Both] clearly show inhumane conditions for animals at Kreider's factory farm in Manheim," Shapiro told ABC News.

Shapiro also said that even if Kreider is in compliance with approved practices, the Humane Society takes issue with those practices. "We're not alleging criminal wrongdoing," said Shapiro. "We're pointing out how cruel and inhumane the conditions for the animals are there. The real problem is the standard practices at the facility that are stipulated as in-use by all parties here."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr122012

Pennsylvania Egg Factory Accused of Animal Cruelty, Filth

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An animal rights group claimed on Thursday that an undercover investigation has revealed "extreme animal abuse" and unsanitary conditions at a major regional egg supplier.

The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement its investigation into the Pennsylvania-based Kreider Farms facilities uncovered "injured and dead hens, including mummified bird carcasses" living inside the same cages as live hens who lay eggs for human consumption, as well as chickens who had their heads, legs or wings trapped in cage wires and feeding machinery.

Undercover video allegedly shot at Kreider Farms and provided by the Humane Society appears to show birds lying dead among the crowded cages of live chickens.

A previous investigation by ABC News into another egg-producing farm company, Sparboe Farms, revealed such unsanitary conditions that major customers, including McDonald's and Target, dropped Sparboe as their supplier.

The Humane Society said Kreider Farms, headquartered in southeast Pennsylvania, is home to close to seven million egg-laying hens.  On its website, Kreider Farms says that number is closer to five million and says the farms are dedicated to being "stewards of the land, operating clean, efficient and state-of-the-art facilities and creating a work environment of openness, honesty, trust, and personal satisfaction." 

The Humane Society estimates there are a total of 280 million egg-laying hens in the United States.

The family-owned company has been the recipient of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association's Excellence in Food Safety award, according to its website.

Videos available on the website show what appear to be much cleaner conditions for the hens compared to the undercover footage and claim, contrary to the Humane Society report, that the chickens have plenty of room to stretch out in their cages.

A spokesperson for Kreider Farms did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this report, but the company's president, Ron Kreider, told The New York Times the Humane Society report was a "gross distortion of Kreider Farms."

"The reality of food processing can be off-putting to those not familiar with animal agriculture," Kreider told The Times.  "When dealing with millions of birds, there is always a small percentage of dead birds." 

UPDATE: Click here to read Kreider Farms' statement on the Humane Society's allegations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec012011

Animal Rights Group Accuses Sparboe Farms of False Advertising

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Sparboe Farms, the embattled egg producer featured in a scathing recent ABC News investigative report, has been accused of false advertising by the animal rights group that captured video of alleged animal abuse at the company's factory-style egg farms.

Mercy for Animals has filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate allegedly false claims made by Sparboe. The rights group says while the nation's fifth largest egg producer says its hens receive "five essential freedoms" to ensure their welfare, the company doesn't actually provide those freedoms. The group says Sparboe is misleading consumers who buy its eggs.

On the Sparboe Farms website, the "Animal Care Code of Conduct" states that the company's hens won't suffer from hunger, thirst or pain. It also says that Sparboe hens have "freedom to express normal behavior" and "freedom from fear and distress."

In the FTC complaint, Mercy for Animals calls these claims "blatantly false" and points to the hidden camera video taken by an undercover operative in the company's egg farms over a three-month period. The video, which showed animal abuse and unsanitary conditions at facilities in three states, first aired as part of the ABC News investigation. After learning of the results of the ABC News investigation, major Sparboe customers, including McDonald's and Target, severed their ties with the egg producer.

Mercy for Animals says Sparboe has given consumers a false picture of the procedures at its egg farms, claiming Sparboe has "company-wide, top-down policies aimed at maximizing profits at the expense of the health and welfare of the hens and chickens."

Sparboe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Mercy for Animals complaint.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio