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Entries in Humane Society (4)

Sunday
Jul012012

California's Foie Gras Ban Goes Into Effect

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.) -- California restaurant owners had until midnight to legally sell foie gras to customers seeking the French delicacy. Sunday, a state law signed in 2004 that bans producing or selling the fatty goose or duck liver achieved by force feeding goes into effect, and violators will be slapped with a $1,000 fine.

As the days counted down to the ban, restaurant owners said they saw an increase in sales from customers looking to enjoy their last legal taste.

"We have people asking for fois gras on their French fries, on their eggs on their sushi," said Pedro Lorencillo, general manager at Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco.

The Los Angeles Times even reported residents going on "foie gras crawls" in the last month before the ban took effect.

The law, signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, postponed the ban eight years so the state's main producer, Artisan Sonoma Foie Gras, could amend its business practices.

This is the only current ban of its kind in the United States, though Chicago had a ban for a few years before reversing it, and many countries in Europe consider its production inhumane and made it illegal.

Jennifer Fearing of the Humane Society said she supports the California ban because force feeding the animals with a tube to enlarge their livers is "fundamentally inhumane."

Bev Morse, a California diner, said she supports the ban as well.

"They are force-feeding these young animals until they practically explode and then using those organs to feed human beings," Morse said. "It's gruesome."

PETA posted a list on Friday of the top five reasons to ban foie gras nationwide with several graphic photos.

Sean Chaney, who owns Hot's Grill in Hermosa Beach, said he thinks graphic photos often come from unregulated farms in Europe.

"They're taken care of better than some people," he said. "They're pampered ducks."

According to Artisan Sonoma Foie Gras' website, the farm aims to be humane, and "ducks are never individually caged and roam free range for most of their lives."

Many California chefs call the ban "absurd," and pledge to use loopholes to serve the dish anyway.

One loophole restaurants have figured out is a BYOF policy, meaning Bring Your Own Foie. If you supply the foie gras, they'll cook it for free -- and maybe charge you $20 for the toast it's served on.

"People are calling that 'foikage,' said Dan Scherotter, chef at Palio d'Asti in San Francisco. "So instead of corkage, we'd charge 'foikage' to cook your fois gras for you."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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

Monday
Feb132012

McDonald's Asks Pork Distributors for Humane Reforms

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- McDonald’s says it has asked its pork suppliers to outline plans that will eventually lead to more humane methods of raising pigs for slaughter. The fast food corporation has given meat distributors until May to find a way to phase out the use of “gestation crates,” cages that are used to confine pregnant sows.
 
The Humane Society is praising the move, which was announced jointly by McDonald's Corp. and the animal rights group.
 
“McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future,” McDonald’s announced in a written statement. “There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows.”
 
In a phone conference, Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle told reporters he hopes the move will have a cascading effect on industrial agriculture.
 
“If a company that is very focused on price is committed to ending gestation crates then there's really no excuse for any company, no matter where it is, in terms of its marketing to continue to allow these extreme confinement crates.”
 
Gestation crates, also called sow stalls, are narrow caged pens that hold pregnant sows for most of their adult lives. Once the animal gives birth, they are typically inseminated again to repeat the process until the pig is infertile, when it is then culled. The stalls are too narrow for the animal to turn around. Studies from the Humane Society say the conditions can lead to urinary tract infections, lameness, and growth abnormities.
 
Suppliers that comply with McDonald’s order will most likely move their pigs into “group housing” plans, which allow the animals to move more freely and socialize with each other.
 
Several leading pork distributors have recently announced they would be following similar measures, including Smithfield and Hormel Foods, maker of Spam and Black Label bacon. Eight states have enacted legislation banning gestation crates.
 
It is unclear how long it will take for McDonald’s suppliers to phase out the practice completely. Last November the fast food chain announced it had pulled business from one of the nation’s largest egg farms shortly before an ABC News investigation aired regarding alleged sanitary and inhumane practices at the distributor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio