Expert panel examines undercover chicken processing video

Mercy For Animals releases undercover video at N.C. processing facility, panel provides independent analysis of the footage


An uncovered video released over the weekend by animal rights organization Mercy For Animals (MFA) alleged improper handling and acts of cruelty took place at North Carolina chicken processing facility.

The hidden video footage was filmed at slaughterhouse owned by Wayne Farms, LLC., one of the largest vertically integrated poultry producers in U.S. The company also owns and operates 11 fresh and further processed facilities which produces more than 2.6 billion lb. of poultry products each year.

MFA, known for its undercover video and promotion of vegan lifestyle, used this recent release to target Gordon Food Service – one of the largest foodservice distributors in U.S. which purchases chicken from Wayne Farms.  The organization is calling on the company to adopt new policies preventing animal cruelty on farms and at slaughter.

However, an Animal Care Review panel -comprised of Dr. Chuck Hofacre veterinarian from University of George, Dr. Michael Hulte animal scientist from Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Ruth Newberry an ethicist from Washington State University - independently reviewed and evaluated the footage did not agree with the acts of cruelty described by narrator and actress Pamela Anderson.

“I don’t see horrific animal abuse in this video,” said Dr. Hofacre. “USDA inspectors are on site. If they see abuse they have authority to stop things.”

“If people want to eat meat, we must kill animals. Some of the process isn’t camera-friendly – it’s not pretty,” he added. “There are systems and processes in place to make sure it’s carried out in a humane manner and I did not see animal abuse in this video.”

Moreover, the MFA claimed in the video that birds are currently being bred to grow obese so quickly that they become crippled.

In response, Dr. Hofacre explained that “This statement is inaccurate. Birds aren’t raised to be obese and it would be highly unusual for them to become crippled under their own weight. If the birds were obese, that means they’re putting on fat instead of muscle.”

Still, the narrator does emphasis that sick and diseased birds are dead on arrival at processing facility although no concrete numbers are given.

According to Dr. Newberry, the percentage of birds arriving dead to the facility is carefully monitored.

“The percentage of birds arriving dead should be routinely monitored and should not exceed 0.5%,” stated Newberry. “Under best practices, if mortality rises above one bird in 400, the sources of mortality are promptly investigated and remedial steps are taken to correct any problems found.”

Furthermore, Dr. Hofacre added that ““There were some dead birds shown in the video but there’s no context. There’s no way to tell what happened.”

The final report released by the expert panel, is disseminated by the Center for Food Integrity without the poultry industry review or approval.

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