What Bangladesh sweatshops can teach U.S. food producers

ASDA, Britain’s second largest supermarket chain, recently installed webcams in two apparel factories in Bangladesh to give its customers a direct, uncensored viewed into working conditions on the factory floor.

Cargill is doing the same thing to provide transparency to its animal slaughter business and improve food safety. It’s about time.

When the Los Angeles Times reported last week how a couple of large food producers were held hostage by a kid with a video camera — the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video footage shot at two of the nation’s largest egg farms showing workers slamming chickens into metal bins and dead birds littering cages – I once again thought, why wouldn’t food producers take matters into their own hands?

The egg-farm footage released Wednesday was shot surreptitiously over the last two months inside Iowa facilities owned by Rose Acre Farms and Rembrandt Enterprises. It was taken by a Humane Society volunteer, who had landed work at four Iowa hen operations.

Among other things, the video footage showed chickens crammed into cages so crowded that the animals couldn’t move and their talons couldn’t touch the floor; chickens held in battery cages above manure pits that allegedly hadn’t been regularly cleaned; and a worker stuffing birds into a euthanizing chamber with such force that the thunk of the animals’ heads hitting the metal exterior could be heard.

Tony Wesner, executive vice president of Rose Acre Farms in Seymour, Ind., said Wednesday morning that the company "doesn’t condone inhumane treatment" of its livestock. "Anyone violating our standards would be immediately terminated," Wesner said.

Then bring out your own video evidence to back up what you say. Words aren’t enough. Prove it. And if a sweatshop in Bangladesh can provide the evidence, can’t a U.S. slaughterhouse?