Tyson Foods Inc. is the target of a second undercover video released in less than a month, this time targeting the company for animal cruelty and workplace hazards.
The latest video, released by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), alleges that Tyson's slaughter plant in Carthage, Texas, exploits both workers and animals.
In July, animal rights group Mercy for Animals released an undercover video of a farm contracted by Tyson.
“Our investigation proves that the cruel treatment of chickens by Tyson Foods are not isolated incidents but a systematic, company-wide problem,” said Stephen Wells, ALDF executive director. “Tyson Foods is putting profits over not only ethical standards but state and federal laws,”
The animal rights group said extremely fast speed at which chickens are slaughtered greatly increases the possibility of equipment jamming in processing plants and makes it impossible to handle the birds in a humane fashion while creating safety concerns for Tyson employees.
ALDF said it has requested that the attorney general of Delaware, where Tyson is incorporated, investigate and sanction the company.
The group also filed three complaints against Tyson with three different government agencies.
First, ALDF filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning Tyson's inhumane animal handling practices and food safety violations and requested that the agency enforce food safety regulations as outlined in the Poultry Products Inspection Act.
Second, ALDF filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration citing unsafe working conditions for employees, including repetitive motion stress injuries and the high risk of being maimed and/or injured by the rapidly moving conveyor belts.
Third, ALDF filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission accusing Tyson of overstating the priority it puts on animal welfare in corporate and investor materials.
A Tyson representative told Feedstuffs that the company is still reviewing the video but explained that it is “absolutely committed to proper animal handling and workplace safety.”
“Everyone who works with live animals in our plants — including the person who secretly shot this video — is trained in proper animal handling and instructed to report anything they believe is inappropriate,” the representative said, adding that employees can report to their supervisor, to the Tyson compliance and ethics hotline or even to one of the USDA inspectors who have access to all parts of the plant, including the live animal handling areas.
“During the time frame we believe this video was shot, we have no record of any employees reporting claims of animal handling violations,” the representative told Feedstuffs.
In addition to training, Tyson said it also regularly conducts its own internal animal handling audits in its plants. In addition, the operations are subject to third-party audits.
Addressing the production rates allegations, the company said its plants — including the one in Carthage — operate well within the limits set by USDA.
“The safety of our team members is very important to us,” Tyson stated. “We continuously monitor our facilities to make sure they're safe. Each team member is trained to work safely in their job, and daily safety meetings are held to keep safety top of mind. Team members can also report any workplace safety concerns to their supervisor, a member of management or our compliance and ethics hotline.”