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Tyson Foods Treats Its Chickens So Badly, It Makes Employees Sick

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Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund released undercover video footage taken inside a Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE:TSN) Texas chicken slaughter plant in Carthage, Texas documenting a system that exploits both workers and animals. The videotape includes an interview with the undercover investigator, filmed in shadow to protect her identify.

ALDF's investigator describes rough handling of the chickens, the high speed at which chickens are slaughtered, and equipment malfunctions that unnecessarily injured the birds or left them piled so high they suffocated or were crushed to death.

WARNING: Disturbing content

The investigator spent 21 days working at the slaughterhouse where conditions made her physically ill.

"I got feces in my eyes and mouth regularly," she said. "I had heat rashes, eye discharge, blisters on my hands, carpal tunnel, infected scratches and cuts, severe fatigue and body aches and a head cold from the bad air quality."

In July, Mercy For Animals released its own recent undercover footage showing a routine of abuse by workers at a farm contracting with Tyson Foods. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has also documented numerous animal welfare issues at Tyson facilities.

"Our investigation proves that the cruel treatment of chickens by Tyson Foods is a systematic, company-wide problem not isolated incidents as the company would have the public believe," says Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director.

Speed maims and kills

The investigator points to the speed of the conveyor belts and lines on which chickens are hung as one of the main problems. The plant processes up to a quarter of a million chickens a day, forcing each worker to handle thirty-five birds per minute. The slaughter process moves so fast, there's no way the workers can handle the birds humanely. The speed also makes repetitive stress injuries common among workers.

ALDF seeks justice

ALDF is asking the Attorney General of the State of Delaware, where Tyson Foods is incorporated, to investigate and sanction the company. Additionally, ALDF has filed formal complaints against Tyson with:

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service: Requesting enforcement of basic food safety practices outlined in the Poultry Products Inspection Act and humane animal handling practices.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Asking OSHA to cite Tyson for conveyor belt speeds that violate its safe workplace standards, increasing the risk of workers suffering repetitive motion stress or being maimed and/or injured.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): Accusing Tyson Foods of making false statements in corporate and investor materials about prioritizing animal welfare, while refusing to improve the treatment of animals at its farms and slaughterhouses.

ALDF is urging the company to immediately reduce the speed at which chickens are slaughtered and to set a firm date for switching a majority of processing plants over to "controlled atmosphere stunning." This method uses carbon dioxide or other gases to render birds unconscious before they are slaughtered.

"We're giving Tyson Foods an opportunity to be an industry leader in the humane treatment of chickens. These changes would ensure chickens are not being tortured when killed and protect their employees from injury," says Wells.

To learn more visit, www.aldf.org/Tyson.