Tyson Fires 2 Workers After Video Shows Cruelty to Chickens

  • The company is investigating claims of animal mistreatment
  • Animal-rights group behind film seeks new slaughter methods

Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. chicken processor, fired two workers after an undercover video released by an animal-rights group showed mistreatment of birds at a Mississippi slaughterhouse.

Six Tyson employees and the company face criminal counts of animal cruelty after the release of the video taken at the plant near Carthage, Mercy for Animals said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. While the group has reportedly submitted a misdemeanor complaint with county officials, to Tyson’s knowledge, criminal charges haven’t been filed by any government agency, company spokesman Gary Mickelson said in an e-mailed statement.

The footage posted on the website of West Hollywood-based Mercy For Animals appears to show workers at the plant throwing and beating chickens, and shackled birds having their heads ripped off while still alive.

“We’re appalled by the actions shown in this video and have been investigating a claim of animal mistreatment in this area of the plant since late last week,” Mickelson said. “We believe proper animal handling is an important moral and ethical obligation.”

Tyson trains workers to properly handle animals and they’re “encouraged to report bad behavior,” Mickelson said.

Ag-Gag Laws

This is the third undercover investigation into Tyson’s poultry business by Mercy For Animals since July, according to the group. It’s asking the Springdale, Arkansas-based company “to implement meaningful animal welfare requirements” for farms and slaughterhouses. Specifically, the group is asking Tyson to introduce new methods of slaughter that are “less cruel,” and in which workers never handle live birds.

Exposing animal cruelty through undercover videos has become a contentious issue, with some states banning the practice through what opponents call “ag-gag laws.” Animal-rights groups argue these films are the only way to expose wrongdoing, while opponents argue that the filmmakers get jobs under false pretenses and misrepresent the meat industry.

Tyson closed 0.4 percent higher at $44.97 in New York. The shares have gained 12 percent this year.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE