In the latest claim against Whole Foods Market over how the animals that get turned into the supermarket chain's meat are treated, activists are alleging some of the store’s turkeys live in horrific conditions at a California farm. Just ahead of Thanksgiving, the Oakland-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere said it found a facility where the animals for sale are raised, in which the investigators saw crowded barns, birds trapped in feces and many birds with eyes and nostrils swollen shut, a report from the group released Tuesday said
The report said that Diestel Turkey Ranch operated one farm that has been described as humane but that farm does not raise any turkeys for sale. But during an investigation, Direct Action Everywhere said it found records that show 7 percent of birds died in a single week at a farm that does raise turkeys for sale.
Direct Action Everywhere is expected to release a video Tuesday that shows inhumane treatment of turkeys at the farm, the Wall Street Journal has reported. The video, viewed by the Journal in advance, was said to show turkeys with matted feathers and birds walking around a decomposing turkey carcass.
The Sonora, California-based Diestel Turkey Ranch has disputed the claims in the video. A farmer for Diestel, Heidi Diestel, told the Wall Street Journal it was not known where the images in the video were taken or where some of the information in the report came from.
Diestel also said most of Diestel’s flock is healthy, and that while it is possible some turkeys are sick or dead in the video, animal deaths occur at farms everywhere. A Whole Foods spokesman said the company had a team look at the conditions of the farm after learning of Direct Action Everywhere’s investigation, but found the conditions portrayed in the video were not seen by Whole Foods while visiting the ranch.
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“It is important to understand the mission of animal activist groups like this one isn’t farm animal welfare but rather a total end to animal agriculture and meat consumption,” Michael Silverman, a spokesman for the Whole Foods, told the Washington Post.
Tuesday’s report is not the first time Whole Foods has been the focus of animal welfare claims. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Norfolk, Virginia-based animal rights organization, in September filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods, saying the chain didn’t monitor its meat suppliers adequately, Fortune reported.