MORGANTON, N.C. (AP) — A poultry company in western North Carolina says it has installed cameras in the plant where live birds are present after a federal report found 33 inhumane violations.
The Morganton News Herald reports the U.S. Agriculture Department found the violations at Case Farms’ plant in Morganton, including birds being run over, kicked by an employee and dipped in a scalder while still alive.
Case Farms said in a statement that in addition to cameras, it also has set up a third-party hotline for employees to report inhumane treatment.
Case Farms said its employees are trained in humanely handling animals but that its standards haven’t been met in the past. Employees responsible for inhumane treatment of chickens will be fired, the company said.
On its website, Case Farms said it has more than 3,200 employees and 475 grower farms.
The 33 violations included in the report were the second most among any of the 300 federally inspected plants, although Case Farms of Ohio had an additional 26 complaints.
Simmons Prepared Foods in Arkansas led with 40 violations.
Dena Jones, the farm animal program director for the Animal Welfare Institute, said a major problem with the poultry industry is the lack of punishment. An inspector typically intervenes only when he or she notices a major problem, Jones said.
“If he observes something happening like 10 birds drowning in the scalding tank, he can temporarily stop the line and say, ‘Hey, you need to fix it,'” she said.
AWI obtained the violations through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the USDA.
According to documents obtained by AWI through FOIA, the following chicken plants were each cited at least 20 times for not complying with humane handling standards:
- Simmons Prepared Foods in Decatur, Arkansas
- Case Farms Processing in Morganton, North Carolina
- Pilgrim’s Pride in Mount Pleasant, Texas
- Case Farms of Ohio in Winesburg, Ohio
- Sanderson Farms in Palestine, Texas