McDonald's, Tyson cut ties with farmer tied to abuse video

Ravi Baichwal Image
Thursday, August 27, 2015
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McDonald's and Tyson have ended their relationship with a farm depicted in an animal rights group's video.

NEW YORK (WLS) -- McDonalds and supplier Tyson Foods say they have ended their relationship with a farm an advocacy group says they caught on video committing various acts of animal abuse.

The group says disturbing video shows intense cruelty to chickens at the Tennessee farm. The organization says the scenes are typical for factory-farm operations that sell to Tyson Foods, one of McDonald's major suppliers.

Using spiked sticks in overcrowded coops, workers are seen slaughtering birds for Happy Meals, many deformed because they're bred to grow rapidly. They are birds that live in little natural light, often in filth, dealing with disease.

"McDonald's Chicken McNugget suppliers treat their animals like mere meat producing machines. From the day they are hatched to the day they are violently killed, their short lives are filled with misery and deprivation," said Nick Cooney, director of education, Mercy for Animals.

Mercy for Animals says one of its investigators shot pictures during a month of work on the farm that sells to Tyson Foods.

Tyson announced Thursday that it has terminated its contract this operation and responded in a video shot Wednesday:

"We are committed to animal well-being. This video is not an accurate portrayal of how our independent farmers and ranchers treat their animals and care for them on a daily basis," said Dr. Christine Daugherty, Tyson Foods.

But Mercy for Animals says this is typical, because through much of the U.S., state laws deem what is a general practice in the industry to be legal.

"As a civilized society it is our moral obligation to protect all animals," Cooney said.

Beyond advocating for a vegan diet, Mercy for Animals says eradicating obvious abuse - standing on birds heads, breaking necks by yanking wings, throwing them into stuffed crates - can make chicken farming more humane at little cost.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's said in a statement:

"We believe treating animals with care and respect is an integral part of a responsible supply chain and find the behavior depicted in this video to be completely unacceptable. We support Tyson Foods' decision to terminate their contract with this farmer."

"I won't be eating Chicken McNuggets, I will tell you that," said Anne Weis, an Arlington Heights McDonald's customer.

McDonald's adds that it does not think the video accurately depicts the treatment of chickens by "the thousands of farmers who supply us."