Foster Farms Investigated, Workers Accused of Animal Cruelty
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KMPH) —
Foster Farms finds itself in hot water following accusations of animal cruelty at one of its poultry processing plants in Fresno.
Undercover video, presented Wednesday by the group Mercy for Animals shows what it claims are Foster Farms workers shoving, flinging and plucking live chickens.
At one point, a chicken appears to have been boiled alive.
"Most people would be shocked and horrified to learn they're paying for blatant animal abuse at Foster Farms," says Matt Rice, with Mercy for Animals.
Rice says investigators with his organization actually applied for jobs at Foster Farms, providing their actual names and identification.
Rice says they recorded the videos in question between April and June of 2015.
He says no particular issue prompted the investigation.
"We wanted to see for ourselves how these animals were living and dying at foster farms. What we saw shocked and horrified us," he says.
Those who worked undercover say they turned over the video of the behavior in question to Foster Farms, but no action was taken.
On its packaging, the poultry giant prominently displays the logo for the American Humane Association.
On its YouTube page, Foster Farms also has a video clip detailing its endorsement by the the American Humane Association.
The association's President and CEO Robin Hanzert even asserts: "You know there's somebody out there, not associated with the producer, that's verifying those animals were humanely raised."
"Consumers would be led to believe that the American humane association stamp of approval meant these animals have relatively decent lives and humane deaths. That couldn't be further from the truth-as our undercover video shows," says Rice.
The videos shot undercover have been handed to the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.
It confirms it has launched an investigation.
Foster Farms released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying it has already identified and suspended five workers who were either caught on camera or knew of the behavior in question.
The statement reads: It is Foster Farms' Policy to take disciplinary action against animal welfare violations up to and including termination of employees who do not follow animal welfare policies. Foster Farms is reinforcing animal welfare training company wide on its ranches and its plants.
Rice says he'd like to see more government oversight over Foster Farms and other poultry processors. Mercy for Animals would even like to see video monitoring installed that live streams to the internet to deter any abuse.
The group has investigated about 40 poultry and meat processors across the United States.Click here to see the video but be warned it contains graphic images.