GARNER, N.C., Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Officials at a turkey-processing firm say any employees abusing birds will be fired after an undercover video caught workers kicking and dragging the animals.
The animal rights group Mercy for Animals released the surreptitiously produced film Monday, the New York Daily News reported.
Butterball acknowledged the video in a statement Wednesday and said it would fire "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."
Butterball said it had launched an internal investigation and had suspended several workers who could be fired at the end of the investigation.
The company's guidelines for handling its fowl are based on standards of the National Turkey Federation, Butterball said.
The footage, taken last month at several Butterball plants in North Carolina, "exposes an ongoing pattern of cruelty and severe neglect," MFA charged.
MFA documented similar abuses last year at a Butterball facility in Hoke County, N.C., said Greg Burkett, professor of avian medicine at North Carolina State University.