General News

Are You Still Eating Butterball Turkeys?

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Supported 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H4 1/27/12

Become a Fan
  (71 fans)

"People love turkey. We love turkey, too," says the corporate website for Butterball, the nation's largest vertically integrated turkey producer.

Butterball is certified by the British Retail Consortium, says the site, on "300 elements related to food safety and quality, as well as worker safety, environmental impact and management commitment." The turkey processor practices "good citizenship" based on "self-governance," "social responsibility," and   "sustainability."

But search for the words "welfare," "Mercy For Animals" or "Shannon, North Carolina" (where a grisly Christmas-time expose took place) and you will get no results. Maybe you didn't spell the words correctly.

 Between November and December of 2011, while people were making their holiday plans, an undercover employee at a Butterball turkey semen collection facility in Shannon documented turkeys with open sores, infected eyes and broken bones, covered in flies and living in their own waste. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Oops by Martha Rosenberg

"In the video, workers can be seen kicking and stomping on turkeys, as well as dragging them by their wings and necks," reported ABC news. "The video also shows injured birds with open wounds and exposed flesh."

Birds at the Butterball facility were left to slowly die from their injuries, some unable to even reach food or water, says the undercover employee. The "pain and the suffering that they're experiencing," is clearly visible she told NBS news.

 Like scores of other gigantic food producers who have been exposed on undercover videos as harboring sadistic employees and sick and dying animals, Butterball pleads ignorance. It has a "zero tolerance policy for any mistreatment of our birds," and has fired the proverbial "bad apple" employees it did not know about. Who knew?

Butterball is also "taking steps to help ensure that all new and existing associates have a clear understanding of our animal well-being policies," said Rod Brenneman, president and CEO of Butterball. Maybe employees don't know they aren't supposed to stomp and kick birds, drag them by their wings and necks, not to mention bash them in the heads with metal bars, as the employee reports. Let's tell them!

But, it wasn't only Butterball management that enabled the agricultural hell for turkeys in the interests of cheap "holiday" food. Dr. Sarah Mason, head of animal health programs in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, tipped off Butterball about a December 28 raid and managed to sabotaged it.   Even as the Hoke County Sheriff's Department sought to raid Butterball on the basis of videotaped evidence, Mason contacted "a friend and fellow veterinarian" who works for Butterball, which assured that the raid "never had a chance," reports the Fayetteville Observer.

Hey, from one vet to another, we better hide the animal abuse we're permitting!

Given that the state agency is in charge of regulating Butterball yet undermined the raid, was there a quid pro quo involved? "That's a criminal matter, to be decided by the district attorney's office," opines the Observer.

The sordid collegiality between government and industry which makes a mockery of democracy, consumer rights and animal welfare, brings to mind the saga of egg don Austin "Jack" DeCoster, the salmonella king.

Despite the recall of half a billion salmonella-contaminated eggs from DeCoster-affiliated farms in 2010, his conviction on animal cruelty the same year and nine deaths and 500 illnesses traced to his eggs in 1987,   Iowa state agencies thought he was a pretty cool dude.

 "One of the things I've always said about DeCoster is that when there's a problem at his facilities, he acts fast," enthused Kevin Buskins, a spokesman for Iowa's Department of Natural Resources which shares oversight of egg operations with the state agriculture department.

Will Butterball get a pass like DeCoster did? So far no charges have been filed against the turkey processor and its state regulator "friend" still has her job. And there is even more good news for the turkey processor. The company and its communications agency, Howard, Merrell & Partners, received four public relations awards from the Virginia Chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association, Carolinas, this month at an industry banquet.

Receiving honors were a celebration for the "millionth fresh bird produced during the 2010 holiday season," a press release announcing  330,000 pounds of turkey products donated to the needy and a campaign in partnership with the Weekly Reader that demonstrates "how responsible agricultural practices lead to healthy animals and safe, high-quality food for consumers."

 

Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Grassley Investigates Lilly/WebMD link Reported by Washington Post

The Drug Store in Your Tap Water

Are You Sure You're Not Psychotic Asks Shameless Drug Company?

It's the Cymbalta Stupid

MRSA and More. Antibiotics Linked to Obesity and Allergies, Too

Another Poorly Regulated "Derivative"--the Antidepressant Pristiq

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
I naively thought when I first heard about farm an... by Suzana Megles on Saturday, Jan 28, 2012 at 2:05:02 PM