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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

L.A. Animal Rights Group Exposes Turkey Abuse

Abuse by workers at a Butterball factory is exposed in a video released by Mercy for Animals.

New secretly recorded hidden-camera video was released Wednesday, showing a well-known turkey factory abusing their birds.

Butterball, the company responsible for killing 30 percent of the turkeys eaten in the U.S. on Thanksgiving, was exposed by Mercy for Animals, a Los Angeles-based animal protection organization.

The company has been known to over-feed their animals, making them susceptible to leg problems and other physical disorders.

Mercy for Animals explained in a press release that “while wild turkeys are sleek, agile, and able to fly, Butterball’s turkeys have been selectively bred to grow so large, so quickly, that many of them suffer from painful bone defects, hip joint lesions, crippling foot and leg deformities, and fatal heart attacks.”

But the video released Wednesday shows even more abuse.

Workers are shown dragging the birds by their wings, actions that Mercy for Animals describes as inhumane.

“Before ending up on Thanksgiving dinner plates, turkeys killed for Butterball are routinely crowded into filthy warehouses, left to die from festering, bloody wounds, and thrown, kicked, and beaten by factory farm workers,” Mercy for Animals executive director Nathan Runkle said.

Last year, Butterball was found abusing their birds in similar ways, and some workers faced criminal animal cruelty convictions.

“These behaviors are cruel, inhumane, and injurious to the birds,” North Carolina Veterinarian Greg Burkett said after reviewing the video. “I am appalled at the disrespect these workers have toward the lives of other living creatures.”

Butterball acknowledged the video's release by Mercy for Animals and said, “We take any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously." The food company said it has a "zero tolderance policy" for animla abuse.

"Any employee found to have violated our animal care and well-being guidelines, as well as any employee who witnessed abuse and failed to report it, will be terminated," said the company's statement.

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