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article imageMcDonald's drops egg supplier due to animal cruelty charges

By Kevin Fitzgerald     Nov 20, 2011 in Food
McDonald's has decided to drop their egg supplier, Sparboe Farms, after an animal rights group exposed cruelty to chickens by workers and other potential health hazards in their facilities.
Sparboe Farms was also the egg supplier for Target, who have concurrently decided to terminate their business relationship with the company. Target also states that they will be removing all eggs supplied by Sparboe Farms from their stores immediately.
CNN reports that the animal rights group, Mercy For Animals, shot undercover video at facilities located in Colorado, Iowa, and Minnesota between May and August. It captured images of hens being crammed into crowded long rows of battery cages, chicks having their beaks broken, and other various forms of animal torture being conducted by employees. Many of these cruel acts done to the chickens seemed to be for the mere enjoyment and entertainment of the workers.
Serious health and safety violations were also discovered. Dead hens were found in cages alongside hens that were laying eggs, which could spread disease and increase chances of salmonella contamination. Flies and rodents were also found to be omnipresent in the facilities.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to the owner of Sparboe Farms detailing serious health and safety violations at five of its locations.
In response to the negative publicity, Sparboe Farms allowed ABC News to tour one of their facilities to try and show that they are a state of the art company with high standards, and that they possess the utmost attentiveness to health and safety issues.
Ken Klippen, Sparboe's director of government relations, stated that Sparboe has "never had a single egg or chicken detected with salmonella".
The company also claims that the employees who were caught on the undercover video being abusive to animals have been fired.
According to Reuters, the only Sparboe Farms facility to supply fresh eggs to McDonald's restaurants west of the Mississippi is located in Vincent, Iowa. Ironically, there were no violations found at this facility.
McDonald's released an official statement saying:
"Regarding the undercover videos, the behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable. McDonald's wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. We take this responsibility -- along with our customers' trust -- very seriously. It's important to note that the most alarming actions on video did not occur at Sparboe's Vincent, Iowa, facility that supplies McDonald's. Nonetheless, our extremely high standards for our suppliers prohibit this conduct."
They also noted:
"This is not a food safety issue for our menu items. We can assure our customers that eggs in our entire supply chain meet McDonald's high standards for quality and safety."
There have been no reports yet as to who McDonald's may choose as their new egg supplier.
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