Graphic video that appears to show chickens being mistreated by Tyson Foods employees in Virginia has led to Animal Control investigations, according to The Washington Post.
The newspaper says the videos appear to show “Tyson employees throwing, punching and kicking chickens as well as sticking plastic rods through their beaks…Workers also wrung birds’ necks, ran over them with forklifts and left injured birds in ‘dead piles.'”
In a statement sent to Heavy, Tyson said it was outraged and disgusted by the behavior in the video and had fired 10 employees as a result.
The undercover video was released by Compassion Over Killing, a animal advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The group said in a release that the video was filmed by someone “who worked inside several Tyson facilities throughout Virginia” and added that “the footage offers a shocking, never-before-seen look behind the closed doors of chicken breeding factory farms, known as ‘broiler breeder’ farms. This is where America’s chicken dinner begins.”
Tyson has more than 97,000 team members in its U.S. locations. Tyson says on its website that it focuses on animal well-being: “We work with thousands of farmers every day to provide safe nutritious food for people all over the world. That starts with ensuring the health and well-being of those animals by taking care of them properly – treating them responsibly and with respect. It’s simply the right thing to do.”
The group said the videos also show: “Tyson workers punching and kicking live birds, birds crushed to death by transport crates and run over by forklifts, chickens swung around by their wings and thrown across sheds, workers shoving and slamming birds into transport cages.”
The Post said that one worker said “You can’t let nobody see you do that” while “standing on a chicken’s head and letting it suffocate.” The Post said Animal Control officials in Mecklenburg and Buckingham counties said they are investigating the behavior seen in the videos.
Heavy has reached out to Tyson for comment. Tyson responded by sending the statement to Heavy that says the company viewed the video on Aug. 9. The statement quotes Dr. Christine Daugherty, vice president of sustainable food production for Tyson Foods, who said: “I’m disgusted and outraged by what’s shown in this video. We do not tolerate animal abuse and have fired 10 people who were members of this crew. It was an obvious decision once we were finally able to review the video Tuesday afternoon.”
The statement says that the people shown in the video “were all trained in proper animal handling, yet chose to ignore it and failed to alert management about the despicable treatment on these farms.”
The statement continued, “Animals in our care deserve to be treated humanely. 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 also released a video statement.
Tyson also outlined various steps the company was taking in response to the videos, including reemphasizing animal welfare policies to employees, reaching out to local authorities to cooperate in any criminal investigation, and stopping the process of “beak modification shown in the video.”