- Tyson has responded to reports of animal cruelty at one of its contract poultry farms in Virginia by firing several employees. The terminated employees may also face criminal charges for their actions.
- The company took action after seeing a video that had previously only been sent to three county attorneys. No details have been released regarding the mishandling that occurred or the exact location of the facility.
- Tyson also announced that it would discontinue the practice of beak modification, a historically common practice that helped poultry farmers properly feed male versus female birds.
While it's unclear what forms of animal cruelty the video footage depicts, Tyson felt strongly enough to fire or suspend several employees and will now review animal-handling policies and training and auditing programs for those who work with the birds. After Tyson completes its investigation, the company said in a statement it intends "to implement any measures necessary to protect the well-being of the birds being raised for our company."
This investigation could result in sweeping animal welfare reforms comparable to those Perdue recently announced. Among those changes are more spacious barns for chickens to move around and putting chickens to sleep before slaughter. Perdue faced a similar instance of animal cruelty reports, and earlier this year ended its relationship with two contract farmers that employed a person who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.
This isn't the first time Tyson has faced reports of animal cruelty within its supply chain. Animal rights group Mercy for Animals released video of potential animal abuses at a Tyson slaughterhouse last October.
Consumers are demanding increased transparency from meat producers. These include pledges that the animals are antibiotic-free and grass-fed, but consumers also care about the animals are treated. According to research from the Center for Food Integrity, consumers prefer to access this type of food-related information through company and third-party websites rather than printed on a product label.