Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Undercover at a Turkey Slaughter Plant

The Thanksgiving People Don't Want To See


Undercover at a Turkey Slaughter Plant in North Carolina

by Martha Rosenberg

The alarms rings at 3:45 AM. I reach for the ibuprofen. Without it my hands are too sore and swollen to even close....much less hold a turkey's legs. Wearing a pair of rubber gloves, cotton gloves and taping them doesn't help when you're banging into shackles all day. The flesh is still raw and exposed.

I dress with the video cam that's become part of my daily outfit carefully hidden and fortify myself with enough food to get through the work day.

When we arrive at House of Raeford the trucks full of live turkeys are already waiting to be unloaded; it's not even 5:30 AM

So begins the diary of "Sam"--not his real name--who worked as an undercover investigator for Mercy For Animals (MFA), a national, not for profit animal advocacy organization, earlier this year while employed as a "live hanger" at House of Raeford's turkey slaughterhouse in Raeford, North Carolina.

House of Raeford Farms Inc., (HORF) headquartered in Raeford is the seventh largest turkey producer in the U.S. with seven facilities in North and South Carolina and Louisiana where it breeds, slaughters and processes chickens and turkeys.

While slaughtering turkeys is no one's first choice of work, House of Raeford has an especially checkered past. In 2003 a chlorine gas leak at HORF's Rose Hill chicken plant killed worker Bruce Glover, 39. The following year an ammonia spill at the same plant forced the evacuation of two towns. And last year HORF employee Pedro P. Amaya, 42, was found shot to death in the mobile home he shared with three other poultry workers; the apparent motive robbery, including theft of $60 of pain pills.

A "live hanger" culture exists in slaughter plants says Sam in which there is no recognition of a turkey or chicken being alive or capable of pain.

As they unloaded trucks, workers routinely threw birds from one tier to another, letting them fall 20 feet, swung them around by their feet, "boxed" them as they hung upside down and held them under truck wheels to be crushed. www.mercyforanimals.org/HOR/

Workers pulled heads and legs off turkeys when they were stuck in crates and when they weren't--just for the hell of it.

Workers even sexually abused the birds--inserting their fingers into their cloacae (vaginal cavities) and removing eggs they would throw at each other.

Thanks to current turkey farming methods, the birds that arrived were already injured.

"There were 100 turkeys and chickens dead upon arrival today, many missing feathers with open wounds and with large sores on their feet" writes Sam in his investigator's diary on January 12, 2007. "I saw a chicken with an abscess on her left leg about the size of a tennis ball and another chicken whose right leg was mashed to the point of bloody pulp and [she was still] hanged by both legs to go down the line."

Modern turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly that their legs can't support their own weight and many arrived with legs and knees broken or dislocated says Sam. When you tried to remove them from their crates, their legs would twist completely around, offering no resistance, limp.

The turkeys must have been in a lot of pain reflects Sam, though they don't cry out. In fact the only sound you hear as you hang them is the "trucks being washed out to go back and get a new load."

The same day Mercy For Animals released its undercover video, Denny's, the US' largest full service restaurant chain and a HORF turkey customer, announced it was suspending its supplier. House of Raeford also condemned the videotaped acts and promised an investigation.

But there is no record that Hoke County prosecutor Kristy Newton launched an investigation or brought cruelty-to-animal charges.

Nor did HORF customer Arby's ever acknowledge the videotaped atrocities.

As exposes at Pilgrim's Pride, KFC's supplier, Tyson Foods, Perdue and Butterball have revealed, the system of live hanging and conveying birds through a stunner, blade and scalder is inherently cruel, exposing animals to great pain and regularly boiling them alive.

Controlled-atmosphere killing (CAK)--a system in which birds are left in their transport crates while oxygen is replaced with nitrogen or argon--is considered more humane and in use in Europe.

But another humane alternative is for people to look at the struggling and terrified turkeys hanging upside down and ask themselves: am I really that hungry?

*************

Martha Rosenberg Staff Cartoonist Evanston Roundtable

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news