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FOSTERING CRUELTY: Activists arrested for protesting after releasing undercover video of live chickens slammed on concrete floors

DxE released the video to coincide with a protest at the facility. Demonstrators locked themselves in place to prevent trucks from entering or leaving the site. They were arrested and being held on $50,000 bonds.

SARA SIROTA: In June 2015, the animal rights organization Mercy for Animals sent two investigators to work as undercover employees at a slaughterhouse run by Foster Farms. They documented workers throwing live chickens against metal shackles, birds being scalded alive, and other treatment that the group argued amounted to animal cruelty. Mercy for Animals complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Foster Farms’ labeling of its products as certified by the American Humane Association, or AHA, deceived consumers. The agency declined to take action, though, noting that the company fired employees suspected of abuse, passed an audit, and installed its own video monitoring system…

New footage from Foster Farms, California’s largest poultry producer, shows the company continuing to engage in similar behavior that activists allege amounts to cruel treatment of live chickens. Foster Farms, which was recertified by the AHA earlier this year, has been on the receiving end of millions of dollars in state and local subsidies to expand its product lines in California…

The recent footage, obtained by an anonymous videographer and provided to The Intercept by animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, shows workers throwing live chickens on the concrete floor; discarded yet conscious birds under the weight of one another; some chickens missing electrical waterbaths designed to stun them before slaughter — all under the supervision of employees working dangerous and long shifts in the dark. The videographer, who requested anonymity to avoid repercussions for sharing the footage, entered the company’s facility in Livingston, California, to set up miniature infrared cameras and obtain hundreds of hours of footage, recorded over the past several weeks. Foster Farms did not respond to a request for comment…

In the video, workers throw unviable chickens — those injured or already dead — on the floor, where they lie injured and piled on top of one another, potentially suffocating or drowning, according to the videographer. One employee is shown throwing a bird against the shackles, which also occurred in the Mercy for Animals video. Some live chickens jump off the table before being shackled and join the discarded ones. The video shows an employee returning those birds to the station for shackling but not inspecting them to ensure that they’re in fact the ones already deemed fit for consumption…

After shackling, a conveyor belt transports the birds to electrical waterbaths that are intended to turn them unconscious, leaving them less vulnerable to pain — a value Foster Farms professes to uphold. But chickens are shown lifting their heads above the water, avoiding being stunned…The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act also requires that all livestock be stunned before slaughter; however, much to the frustration of activists, poultry is exempt from this law. Still, the federal government does require that chicken producers abide by industry best standards, which include rendering birds unconscious prior to slaughter…

The video also appears to contradict statements made by the AHA and Foster Farms representatives at the time of its most recent certification in February. “Farmers and associates like those who work with Foster Farms are part of the growing humane movement to elevate standards for animals living on farms and ranches,” Robin Ganzert, the AHA’s president, said at the time… DxE alleges that the documented footage amounts to a violation of California code outlawing animal cruelty, Foster Farms’ AHA certification, and the company’s own policy to raise chickens free from hunger, discomfort, pain, cages, and distress…

DxE released the video to coincide with a protest at the facility Tuesday. According to a DxE press release, demonstrators locked themselves in place to prevent trucks from entering or leaving the site. “The public is shocked to see the brutality happening behind closed doors,” DxE organizer Christina Liu told The Intercept. “We’re taking action as a last resort.” Liu and several other protesters were arrested Tuesday on charges of trespassing and resisting a public officer. Some are being held on $50,000 bonds…

“Animals are being eviscerated alive — right here, right now,” Liu said in DxE’s press release. “These practices are horrifying and illegal … but they’re also business-as-usual for the factory farming industry.” The videographer also shared with The Intercept footage they recorded of a bin filled with maggots crawling all over “inedibles” left out in the open air. “The smell is indescribable,” the source said. SOURCE…

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