AVMA condemns undercover video abuse

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AVMA condemns undercover video abuse

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Jan 01, 2012
By dvm360.com staff

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) issued a statement condemning the actions unveiled in a recent undercover report aired by ABC News Nov. 18 depicting abuse at one of the nation's largest egg producers, Sparboe Farms.

AVMA says the investigative report depicts "unacceptable handling of hens and their housing."

"The AVMA carefully examined the pros and cons of various housing systems—from cages to free range," says Dr. Gail Golab, director of AVMA's Animal Welfare Division. "We have established clear policy based on that analysis and have conveyed that information to industry and humane organizations to ensure that animals are cared for humanely no matter which housing system is used. That makes incidents like this all the more frustrating and heartbreaking. What we observed on today's video isn't about whether hens should be kept in cages or on pasture; it's about poor human behavior—period."

Target, McDonald's and several grocery chains already have cut ties to Sparboe—the nation's fifth largest egg producer. The video, captured by an undercover animal-rights activist from Mercy for Animals, showed workers swinging a bird by its feet, hens packed in cramped cages, chicks being tossed in plastic bags to suffocate and workers cutting off the tips of chicks' beaks.

"Holding suppliers responsible for the care they give animals is essential to ensuring that livestock are treated humanely in production and processing facilities," says Golab. "The AVMA applauds McDonald's for ensuring that their suppliers meet reasonable guidelines for animal welfare."

Sparboe President Beth Sparboe Schnell says the company launched a comprehensive internal investigation once it learned about the video footage from ABC in early November. By Nov. 9—more than a week before the video aired—the company says it already had identified and fired several workers depicted in the video and was working on retraining Sparboe's remaining workers.