Texas, July 22, 2004 (ENS): Chicken processor
Pilgrim's Pride has fired 11 employees at its Moorefield,
West Virginia plant as the result of the company's investigation
into videotaped abuse of the birds aired on national
The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals made the tape secretly and released it to
the media on Tuesday. PETA said the tape showed workers
at the Pilgrim's Pride plant. "Workers ripped the
animals' beaks off, twisted their heads off, spat tobacco
into their eyes and mouths, spray-painted their faces,
and tied their legs together for 'laughs,'" PETA
One superintendent, one supervisor, one foreman and
eight hourly employees were terminated.
Pilgrim's Pride President and Chief Operating Officer
O.B. Goolsby said the investigation will continue "until
we're confident that every employee - regardless of
rank - who had knowledge of these incidents has been
held accountable for their actions."
Pilgrim's Pride has placed quality assurance monitors
on both shifts at the Moorefield facility to continuously
audit handling practices and processing, Goolsby said.
Goolsby said the company will bring in animal welfare
expert Dr. Temple Grandin to review practices at its
Moorefield plant later this month.
PETA too defers to Grandin's expertise, quoting her
as writing, "The behavior of the plant employees
was atrocious ... the WORST employee behavior I have
ever seen in a poultry plant."
Goolsby said the individual who surreptitiously videotaped
the abuses was a company employee who received the company's
animal welfare training on September 3, 2003. During
training employees are instructed to report such incidents
to plant management. If he had done so, Goolsby said,
"corrective and disciplinary actions would have
been taken many months ago, and chickens would have
been spared from suffering the types of abuses shown
in the video."
Pilgrim's Pride supplies chickens to Kentucky Fried
Chicken, whose parent company Yum! Brands said in a
statement the treatment of chickens shown in the video
"We have notified Pilgrim's Pride that unless
they can definitively assure us there are absolutely
no abuses taking place, we will not purchase from this
Moorefield, W.Va. facility," KFC said in a statement.
"This facility is one of many suppliers to our
company and additionally supplies others in the fast
food industry." KFC has placed an inspector at
the Moorfield plant.
PETA, which supports vegetarianism, has been campaigning
against KFC for two years. The group said its investigation
was conducted at this location "because it was
the site of a KFC "Supplier of the Year" award
ceremony, and PETA wanted to see the 'best' that a KFC
supplier had to offer."
Pilgrim's Pride, the country's second largest chicken
processing company after Tyson Foods, says it "places
a high priority on humane treatment of poultry not only
because it's the right thing to do, but because it also
helps assure high-quality, healthful products for consumers."
Pilgrim's Pride says it follows the animal welfare
guidelines recommended by the National Chicken Council.