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Graphic Undercover Video Shows Mutilation, Suffocation, Other Alleged Abuse Of Foster Farm Turkey Chicks

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Just one week after video surfaced showing alleged mistreatment of chickens at a Central Valley Foster Farms facility, new graphic video, allegedly shot at the poultry producer's turkey hatchery in Fresno, reveals more treatment that animal rights activists call inhumane.

This latest video was released by animal rights organization, Compassion Over Killing (COK).

According to COK, an undercover investigator shot the footage which shows hundreds of newly hatched baby turkeys on a conveyor belt just hours before they are shipped to Foster Farms facilities. A narrator explains how they are sorted, examined and prepared.

"A system of machines will forcefully remove parts of their bodies. These fragile hatchlings are grabbed by their feet, shackled upside down and have the ends of their toes burned off."

De-toeing, according to the video, is a "standard practice in the turkey industry."

On another conveyor belt the chicks are "hung by their heads and have parts of their beaks burned off."

According to the video, "de-beaking" is also a standard industry practice.

"Birds that are sick, injured or otherwise deemed unprofitable" are ground up alive, or gassed and suffocated.


A Nightmare for Baby Birds at Foster Farms - investigation video by Animal Outlook on YouTube

Last week, California-based Foster Farms suspended five employees after undercover video released by Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals showed live birds being slammed upside-down into shackles, punched and plucked at one of its Fresno facilities. The poultry company released the following statement through a public relations firm:

"The behavior of the individuals in this video is inappropriate and counter to our stringent animal welfare standards, procedures and policies," the statement said. "We believe raising chickens humanely is simply the right thing to do, and we take our commitment to humane values very seriously."

The company also vowed to reinforce animal welfare training companywide.

In response to the most recent video Foster Farms issued a statement, saying that after a panel of experts reviewed the footage, they concluded that "the processes at the hatchery were appropriate and humane," and "consistent with industry standards and National Turkey Federation animal welfare guidelines."

Mercy for Animals and COK are advocates against eating meat.

Foster Farms full statement sent to CBSSF reads:

"At Foster Farms, animal welfare is a top priority. Our company's practices are guided by the nation's leading experts in animal welfare and poultry production. Recent footage alleging abuse at one of our turkey hatcheries has been reviewed by the Animal Care Review Panel of the Center for Food Integrity (CFI), a not-for-profit organization established to build consumer trust and factual representation of today's food system. The panel was comprised of animal welfare experts including: Dr. Patricia Hester, Purdue University; Dr. Charles Hofacre, University of Georgia; and Dr. Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, University of Arkansas. The footage was also reviewed by Dr. Joy Mench, an animal welfare expert at University of California-Davis.

All experts reviewing the footage concluded:  

• The processes at the hatchery were appropriate and humane.  Employees were exercising due care in handling the birds.  

• The processes were consistent with industry standards and National Turkey Federation animal welfare guidelines.  

• Euthanasia followed the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

It should be noted that the original footage alleging abuse was provided by a vegan organization which actively seeks to dissuade consumers from eating meat, poultry, pork, seafood and dairy products. For more than 70 years, consumers have trusted Foster Farms locally grown chicken and turkey products. We believe that the full set of facts continue to support that trust."

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