McDonald’s, Tyson Cut Ties With Farm After Supplier Accused of Animal Cruelty

McDonald's and the fast food chain's supplier Tyson Foods have cut ties with a Tennessee chicken farm after an animal rights group released what it claims is undercover footage of mistreated chickens. 

Mercy for Animals released the graphic footage Thursday morning, purporting to show workers at T&S Farm in Dukedom, Tennessee, a Tyson Foods contract farm, “clubbing and stabbing chickens.” It also claims to show sick and injured birds left without proper veterinary care and thousands of baby birds "bred to grow so fast they become crippled under their weight."

McDonald’s said in a statement that Tyson Foods has terminated their contract with the farmer.

“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,” the Oak Brook-based fast food chain said in a statement. “We support Tyson Foods’ decision to terminate their contract with this farmer.”

In a statement released Thursday, Tyson said members of its animal well-being team are investigating the farm.

“Animal well-being is a priority at our company and we will not tolerate the unacceptable animal treatment shown in this video,” the company said in a statement. "Members of our animal well-being team are investigating, however, based on what we currently know, we are terminating the farmer’s contract to grow chickens for us. There are currently no chickens on the farm. We’re committed to animal well-being but don’t believe this video accurately depicts the treatment of chickens by the thousands of farmers who supply us."

McDonald’s said it plans to work with Tyson and investigate the situation further.

“We’re committed to working with animal welfare and industry experts to inform our policies that promote better management, strong employee education and verification of practices,” the company said.

McDonald's is the latest company being asked to reform its practices following undercover video released by Mercy for Animals, which advocates against eating meat. 

In June, poultry producer Foster Farms was targeted by the group after undercover video showed chickens being slammed upside-down into metal shackles, plucked and having their feathers pulled out while they were still alive. 

Government statistics show that hundreds of thousands of chickens are accidentally dropped alive into scalding tanks every year, but that represents a small fraction of those slaughtered. Last year, the rate at which chickens were improperly slaughtered plummeted to a low of 0.008 percent, an Agriculture Department spokeswoman said.

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