Dirty conditions at another egg producer

In conditions similar to the Iowa egg farms involved in the 2010 salmonella-in-eggs outbreak – without the salmonella outbreak – the Humane Society of the U.S. plans to release on Thursday the results of an undercover investigation into Kreider Farms, which produces 4.5 million eggs each day for supermarkets like ShopRite.

Nicholas Kristof writes in today’s N.Y. Times that he’s reviewed footage and photos taken by the investigator, who says he worked for Kreider between January and March of this year. In an interview, he portrayed an operation that has little concern for cleanliness or the welfare of hens.

“It’s physically hard to breathe because of the ammonia” rising from manure pits below older barns, said the investigator, who would not allow his name to be used because that would prevent him from taking another undercover job in agriculture. He said that when workers needed to enter an older barn, they would first open doors and rev up exhaust fans, and then rush in to do their chores before the fumes became overwhelming.

Mice sometimes ran down egg conveyer belts, barns were thick with flies and manure in three barns tested positive for salmonella, he said. (Actually, salmonella isn’t as rare as you might think, turning up in 3 percent of egg factory farms tested by the Food and Drug Administration last year.)

In some cases, 11 hens were jammed into a cage about 2 feet by 2 feet. The Humane Society says that that is even more cramped than the egg industry’s own voluntary standards — which have been widely criticized as inadequate.

“These allegations by the Humane Society are a gross distortion of Kreider Farms, our employees and the way we care for birds,” Ron Kreider, the president of Kreider Farms, told me in a statement. He acknowledged that three barns had tested positive for salmonella but said that consumers were never endangered.

“The reality of food processing can be off-putting to those not familiar with animal agriculture,” added Kreider, the third-generation family leader of the company. “When dealing with millions of birds, there is always a small percentage of dead birds. Older-style chicken houses will inherently contain a level of fly and rodent activity.” Kreider added that his company was leading the industry in replacing old barns with state-of-the-art.

Sea World slammed for selling seafood

Do fish tire of eating seafood?

Do fish like seafood as long as it doesn’t taste too much like fish?

Do fish care if seafood is served at Sea World?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Australia thinks so, and wrote to Sea World manager Jeff Hughes asking for all fish dishes to be removed from the Main Beach marine park’s menu, claiming it is akin to "serving poodle burgers at a dog show."

PETA Asia Pacific campaign co-ordinator Claire Fryer said the educational marine park was hypocritical for selling flake, calamari and shrimp at the Dockside Tavern and cod burgers at the Top Terrace Food Court.

Ms Fryer said the way in which fish were caught for fish farms and confined to "cramped, filthy tanks before being violently killed," was inhumane.

Sea World refused to comment and has not replied to PETA.

30 runaway cows killed by UK marksmen in front of horrified kids

It was a scene straight out of Amy’s favorite movie, Napolean Dynamite, times 30.

The Daily Mirror reports a herd of runaway were massacred in a field after being put down by vets – in front of horrified children.

The 30 cattle were rounded up by police and residents after being spotted wandering in local gardens in the early hours.

After public health and animal welfare experts inspected them, council officials ordered them to be shot dead.

Police say they were killed on “welfare grounds” – but the exact reasons remained unknown last night. However, some villagers were furious they were slaughtered in broad daylight – in full view of playing kids, who fled in tears.

And staff at a hospital overlooking the field shut curtains to stop patients seeing the cull in Chirk, near Wrexham, North Wales. One resident said: “Some of my friends who live on the estate near the field where the cows were shot were quite upset afterwards. Some have young child­ren who were out playing at the time and they found it very distressing.”

A police spokesman said: “All the animals had to be humanely slaughtered that evening. There were discussions between the council, Welsh Assembly and the animal welfare agency and it was decided the animals would have to be put down on welfare grounds. .”

The animals’ carcasses were taken away in two lorries the next morning to be incinerated.

UK supermarket chain wants cameras in abattoirs to control cruelty

In early 2008, the Humane Society of the United States released video documenting animal abuse at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. of Chino, Calif., secretly shot by an undercover employee.

That $100-million-a-year company does not exist anymore – brought down by someone using an over-the-counter video recording device.
In April 2009, Cargill Beef announced it had implemented a third-party video-auditing system that would operate 24 hours a day at its U.S. beef plants to enhance the company’s animal welfare protection systems. All of Cargill’s U.S. plants were expected to have the program in place by the end of 2009.

In Feb. 2010, Cargill announced it would expand its remote video auditing program to monitor food-safety procedures within processing plants.

Last week, a new undercover video investigation by a national animal welfare group claimed to show disturbing conditions at a Texas farm operated by the country’s largest egg producer and distributor.

?The Humane Society of the United States said that one of their investigators documented a range of filthy, unsanitary conditions while working at a Cal-Maine Foods operation in Texas over a five-week period this fall. A five-minute video produced by the group shows hens confined in overcrowded cages with rotting corpses, dead and injured birds trapped in cages, eggs covered in feces, and escaped hens floating in manure pits.?

The images are a stark contrast to the clean white birds and eggs featured in the video on the Cal-Maine corporate website.

On Nov, 19, 2010, The Independent reported that Morrisons became the first U.K. supermarket to promise to install CCTV at its abattoirs to reassure the public. The RSPCA called for other chains to follow suit. The supermarket said CCTV images from its Colne and Turriff abattoirs would be stored for 30 days and made available to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Spokesman Martyn Fletcher said: "Our customers want to know that animals are treated well through the slaughtering process and we believe installing CCTV cameras is the best way to demonstrate we have the highest possible standards."

Slaughterhouse cruelty has been under the spotlight after Animal Aid captured breaches of welfare laws at six out of seven randomly selected abattoirs – including one supplying organic meat, where pigs were kicked in the face.

September’s footage from F Drury & Sons reinforces the suspicion many, if not most, of the 370 abattoirs in England and Wales break the rules.

Speaking on behalf of F Drury & Sons, the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers said the 20-second rule had been designed for religious slaughter when animals are not stunned. "The likelihood of a stunned animal being conscious is extremely small," said its veterinary officer Stephen Lomax. "This is not an animal welfare issue."

He blamed government vets for not alerting owners to the "deplorable" abuse found elsewhere. He said: "There’s no excuse for all the self-serving arguments the FSA gives about these vets [monitoring abattoirs] not having enough time. They spend a great deal of time phoning their boyfriends, reading the newspaper or filling in useless forms. The system has failed."

The FSA initially denied illegality at F Drury & Sons, but changed its mind when challenged.

Companies would protect their brand and build trust with the buying public by having their own video to supplement claims of humane handling and food safety.