McDonald’s Corp. and Tyson Food Inc. have cut ties with a Tennessee poultry farm after a video surfaced on Thursday that showed the farm engaging in severe animal cruelty, the Wall Street Journal reported. The video, released by the animal-rights group Mercy For Animals, featured chickens on the poultry farm being stabbed, clubbed and crushed to death.
T&S Farms, the Tennessee poultry farm where the disturbing footage was filmed, supplied chickens to a nearby Tyson processing plant that provides McDonald’s with McNuggets and other chicken products. McDonald’s said in a statement that it and Tyson are investigating the farm and will reinforce its expectations for its meat suppliers to treat animals with care and respect. A Tyson spokesperson said it has terminated its contract with the farm. Tyson officials said no Tyson chickens are currently at T&S Farms and said they, “don’t believe this video accurately depicts the treatment of chickens by the thousands of farmers who supply us,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Mercy For Animals was able to obtain the footage from the farm by sending a member to work there undercover. The worker secretly recorded what went on at the farm over the past month, and filmed farm workers using a long stick with a spike on its end to strike chickens and workers stepping on the birds’ heads while pulling on their bodies in order to break their necks.
Matt Rice, director of investigations for Mercy for Animals, showed the footage to local law enforcement officials who then gave a copy to the local district attorney. The district attorney is expected to decide whether to press criminal charges.
For years, animal welfare groups have been going undercover to expose animal cruelty on farms across the nation. In 2011, Mercy For Animals released a video of animal cruelty occurring at one of the country’s biggest egg supplier companies, which resulted in McDonald’s and Target immediately cutting ties with the egg supplier. In 2014, a Denver cheese company ended its contract with a farm in New Mexico after a video surfaced showing the mistreatment of dairy cows. Many companies swiftly move to cut ties with suppliers after such controversial videos surface, but some states including Iowa, Kansas and Missouri have moved toward laws that bar workers from recording undercover videos, and have criticized activist groups for recording the footage rather than intervening, the Wall Street Journal reported.