Butterfield Foods slaughters 85,000 chickens each day, five days a week. The meat is processed and used for animal feed and even canned for humans to eat.
The animal welfare standards in these facilities, the investigation reveals, may be lagging behind the rest of the poultry production industry, which has been slowly but gradually increasing its standards in recent years. While California recently passed a law to increase the area allotted to its egg-laying hens, Paul Shapiro, HSUS vice president of farm animal protection, said that spent hen facilities have abysmal animal welfare standards in comparison.
"Perhaps most horrifying is that birds are scalded alive," Shapiro told the media during a conference call on Monday. "It's clear that there just wasn't a concern on the part of the company for these issues of animal welfare."
HSUS filed a complaint with the local sheriff's office in Butterfield, Minn., alleging that the facility violated state anti-cruelty laws. It also filed a complaint with the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The organization says that USDA inspectors at Butterfield Foods were not present in the areas preslaughter, like the killing floor and the scalding tank, meaning that they did not document or count the number of red birds. In the video, many of these birds are thrown into a bucket and disposed of before they reach USDA inspectors in processing rooms - meaning that the USDA doesn't keep track of how many birds are scalded alive.