MFA hidden camera investigation leads to arrest of Butterball employees

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A hidden camera investigation of a Butterball factory farm by the national non-profit Mercy For Animals has led to felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges being levied against five employees of the North Carolina-based company.

Also, the director of Animal Health Programs with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Dr. Sarah Jean Mason, has pled guilty to obstruction.

According to MFA, the good doctor admitted to “leaking confidential information to Butterball about the criminal cruelty investigation by state law enforcement officials.”

The undercover investigation -- which took place between November and December of 2011 -- revealed unspeakable cruelty to the birds unlucky enough to be housed at the facility, including:
• Workers violently kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or into transport trucks in full view of company management;
• Employees bashing in the heads of live birds with metal bars, leaving many to slowly suffer and die from their injuries;
• Turkeys covered in flies, living in their own waste, unable to access food or water and suffering from severe feather loss and necrotic (dead) muscles and skin;
• Birds suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, rotting eyes, and broken bones; and
• Severely injured turkeys, unable to stand up or walk, left to die without any veterinary care, because treating sick or injured birds was too costly and time consuming, as the farm manager explained to MFA's investigator.

“Butterball allowed a culture of cruelty and abuse to fester at its company owned factory farms. This case graphically illustrates that the secret ingredient in Butterball turkey is criminal animal abuse,” said MFA’s Executive Director Nathan Runkle. “Before ending up in restaurants and grocery stores, turkeys killed for Butterball are routinely crowded into filthy warehouses, neglected to die from infected, bloody wounds, and thrown, kicked, and beaten by factory farm workers.”

For more information on MFA's Butterball investigation, visit: Butterballabuse.com

Eric Fortney | Facebook |@elfortney | email
Greenville, SC Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of This Dish Is Veg. In addition to editing all the articles that appear on the site, he maintains TDIV's active social media accounts. Along with his work at TDIV, Eric is a copy editor for an online media company and father of three daughters.

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