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Tyson Comments on PETA Claims

by 5m Editor
25 May 2005, at 12:00am

DES MOINES - Tyson Foods today issued the following statement in response to claims by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about animal welfare issues at the company’s Heflin, Alabama, poultry plant.

Tyson Comments on PETA Claims - DES MOINES - Tyson Foods today issued the following statement in response to claims by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about animal welfare issues at the company’s Heflin, Alabama, poultry plant.

Tyson Foods has long been committed to animal well-being and has had formal programs in place for some time. In fact, Tyson was the first U.S. poultry company to establish an Office of Animal Well-Being.

In our “Mission Statement on Animal Well-Being,” Tyson Chairman and CEO John Tyson states our company “is committed to the well-being, proper handling and humane slaughter of all the animals used in our food products. This is a long-standing commitment, and we pledge our diligence in leading the industry pursuit of new and improved technology and methods to further enhance animal well-being.”

He also states proper animal handling “is not only the right thing to do, but is an important moral and ethical obligation we owe to our suppliers, to our customers, to ourselves, and most of all to the animals we depend on for our products and our livelihood.”

Animal well-being is also part of Tyson’s Core Values, which calls on the company’s Team Members to “serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment entrusted to us.”

We’re concerned about some of the actions shown in PETA’s carefully-edited video. While the video appears to have been shot in our Heflin, Alabama, plant we don’t know all of the circumstances involved. That’s why we’ve initiated our own internal review. To the extent this review determines any deficiencies in our procedures or practices; we will immediately undertake corrective action.

Our review is being conducted by Dr. Kelley Pfalzgraf, a veterinarian who manages Tyson’s Office of Animal Well-Being. He has more than 30 years of experience in the livestock industry and has received training from Dr. Temple Grandin, an animal welfare expert who has conducted audits at a number of Tyson plants. In fact, we are inviting Dr. Grandin to join Dr. Pfalzgraf in reviewing plant operations at Heflin.

After seeing the PETA video and an initial check of operations at Heflin, we have the following observations:

  • PETA’s agent was apparently employed at the plant in the poultry slaughter area and in all likelihood violated our animal welfare policy. He signed a document confirming he went through the company’s animal welfare training and was responsible for ensuring that no birds remained alive. His job gave him the responsibility to process any live birds, stop the line or sound an alarm if there was a problem. Instead, it appears PETA’s agent violated Tyson’s animal welfare policy by allowing some conscious birds to go into the scald tank for the sole purpose of videotaping what he should have been preventing.

  • We also take issue with PETA claims of manual decapitation of live birds. We believe the carefully edited video is showing birds that have already been cut by an automatic knife and are either dead or have been rendered unconscious. The worker shown removing heads by hand was monitoring the effectiveness of the previous automatic knife process.

We take animal welfare very seriously. For example, we conduct internal animal welfare audits in our plants and are also subject to regular third party audits. We train our workers on proper animal handling practices. In fact, workers who do not follow company policy in this area are subject to disciplinary action. This includes the possibility of discharge from the company.

Our company continues to research controlled atmosphere stunning. While we continue to examine this technology, animal well-being experts are divided over whether it is more humane than the process virtually all other companies in the industry, including Tyson Foods, currently have in place.

While PETA claims to be interested in animal welfare and controlled atmosphere stunning, the organization’s rhetoric and website clearly focus on a vegetarian agenda.

Source: Tyson Foods Inc - 25th May 2005

5m Editor