Humane Society says turkeys abused

Nov. 24, 2010 at 1:00 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The Humane Society of the United States says a hatchery in Minnesota has been abusing baby turkeys as it selects those destined for America's dinner tables.

An investigator working undercover for the society last month at Willmar Poultry Co., the nation's largest turkey hatchery, videotaped practices that included workers tossing sick, injured or surplus animals into grinding machines while still alive, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday.

Willmar responded that much of the activity shown in the video is accepted industry practice but acknowledged some of its workers' actions appear to "violate the company's animal welfare policies."

Willmar might use the video to retrain employees, company president Rick Vanderspek said.

The society, which picked Willmar to investigate because of its size, said workers threw sick or injured baby turkeys into plastic bins or left them suffering on the floor.

"Our latest investigation exposes a callous disregard for animal welfare in the turkey industry," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society.

"It's unacceptable for workers to leave injured and non-ambulatory animals to suffer on the floor for hours on end, only to then send them to their deaths in a grinder."

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