McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) and Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) are under fire after an undercover video shows factory farmers at one of their suppliers beating chickens with spikes and stepping on their heads to break their necks. The animal rights group, Mercy for Animals released the undercover video to raise awareness about animal cruelty.
The graphic video was shot at T&S Farm in Dukedom, Tennessee, which was under contract with Tyson Foods, which supplies meat for McDonald’s McNuggets. Since the release of the video both companies have cut ties with the farm.
“Members of our animal well-being team are investigating, however, based on what we currently know, we are terminating the farmer’s contract to grow chickens for us. There are currently no chickens on the farm,” the company said in a statement to FOXBusiness.com. “We’re especially concerned about the inappropriate methods used to euthanize sick and injured chickens.”
The video shows factory farmer owners stepping on the heads of live chickens and then pulling on their wings or bodies to break their necks. Another clip shows birds being painfully beaten, stabbed, and impaled on makeshift clubs spiked with nails and then thrown into buckets to slowly die.
“This type of abuse runs rampant in the animal agriculture industry, which seeks to maximize profit and minimize costs at the expense of animals, public health and the environment,” says Matt Rice, Mercy For Animal’s (MFA) Director of Investigations.
Rice says an undercover “investigator” worked at the T&S Farm for about four weeks in July and August and captured the video with a small camera.
“If it weren't for brave undercover investigators, these abuses would happen out of sight and out of mind of most consumers,” he adds.
The organization is calling on McDonald’s, the largest fast-food chain in the world, to adopt meaningful animal welfare policies and end animal abuse.
“The secret ingredient in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets is brutal animal abuse,” said MFA’s president, Nathan Runkle. “They are crammed into filthy, windowless sheds, thrown, kicked, and tortured by careless workers, and bred to grow so fast they suffer from painful leg deformities and heart attacks.”
In a statement, McDonald’s says they are working with Tyson Foods to further investigate this situation and will reinforce their expectations around animal health and welfare.
“The secret ingredient in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets is brutal animal abuse”
"We believe treating animals with care and respect is an integral part of a responsible supply chain and find the behavior depicted in this video to be completely unacceptable. We support Tyson Foods' decision to terminate their contract with this farmer," the company said.
Rice says this isn’t the first time the fast-food chain has been under fire either.
“A few years ago, we documented sickening cruelty to animals at a major McDonald's Egg McMuffin supplier, including hens crammed into filthy wire cages so small they could barely move for nearly their entire lives, rotting carcasses of birds left in cages with live hens still laying eggs for human consumption, and workers burning off the beaks of young chicks without any painkillers,” he said.
The Humane Society of the United States says while McDonald’s has made important progress for the welfare of pigs in recent years, the company should be seeking to curb animal cruelty in the poultry industries as well.
“It still lets its egg suppliers lock hens in cages where they can’t even spread their wings, and the abuse seen in this new video is of course indefensible,” said Paul Shapiro, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection at The Humane Society.
Currently, there are no federal laws to protect chickens at factory farms. Most states specifically exclude chickens and other farmed animals from legal protection.
“However, in this case, violently clubbing birds to death with spiked poles is a clear violation of Tennessee state law. We met with law enforcement to turn over the video footage and provided a detailed legal complaint. The Weakley County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating,” adds Rice.
Rice says consumers who want to help stop animal cruelty can go to their website and sign a petition to stop animal cruelty.