(WASHINGTON) — An animal rights group claimed on Thursday that an undercover investigation has revealed “extreme animal abuse” and unsanitary conditions at a major regional egg supplier.
The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement its investigation into the Pennsylvania-based Kreider Farms facilities uncovered “injured and dead hens, including mummified bird carcasses” living inside the same cages as live hens who lay eggs for human consumption, as well as chickens who had their heads, legs or wings trapped in cage wires and feeding machinery.
Undercover video allegedly shot at Kreider Farms and provided by the Humane Society appears to show birds lying dead among the crowded cages of live chickens.
A previous investigation by ABC News into another egg-producing farm company, Sparboe Farms, revealed such unsanitary conditions that major customers, including McDonald’s and Target, dropped Sparboe as their supplier.
The Humane Society said Kreider Farms, headquartered in southeast Pennsylvania, is home to close to seven million egg-laying hens. On its website, Kreider Farms says that number is closer to five million and says the farms are dedicated to being “stewards of the land, operating clean, efficient and state-of-the-art facilities and creating a work environment of openness, honesty, trust, and personal satisfaction.”
The Humane Society estimates there are a total of 280 million egg-laying hens in the United States.
The family-owned company has been the recipient of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association’s Excellence in Food Safety award, according to its website.
Videos available on the website show what appear to be much cleaner conditions for the hens compared to the undercover footage and claim, contrary to the Humane Society report, that the chickens have plenty of room to stretch out in their cages.
A spokesperson for Kreider Farms did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this report, but the company’s president, Ron Kreider, told The New York Times the Humane Society report was a “gross distortion of Kreider Farms.”
“The reality of food processing can be off-putting to those not familiar with animal agriculture,” Kreider told The Times. “When dealing with millions of birds, there is always a small percentage of dead birds.”
UPDATE: Click here to read Kreider Farms’ statement on the Humane Society’s allegations.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Aaron Smith, CNN Newswire