NC

Over a three whthttp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7003tp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audhttp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7003ioID=7003eek period, animal welfare advocacy group Mercy For Animals, with the help of an inside investigator, shot video inside a Butterball facility in Hoke County, NC.

On Friday, MFhttp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7003A held news conferences in Raleigh and Charlotte explaining their recently revealed undercover video. Nathan Runkel, Executive Director for Mercy for Animals says that in addition to documented abuse and lack of veterinary care:

"Butterball is the largest turkey producer in the United States and it is their responsibility to ensure the birds served under its brand name are not tortured and that they're not suphttp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7003porting egregious and illegal cruelty."

On Friday, MFA held news http://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7003conferences in Raleigh and Charlotte explaining their recently revealed undercover video. Nathan Runkel, Executive Director for Mercy for Animals says that in addition to documented abuse and lack of veterinary care:

"Our investigathttp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7003ion also found extreme filth at this Butterball facility."

Runkles went on to describe the abuse that his organization documented was a ‘culture’:

"Much of the abuse documenhttp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7003ted took place in front of supervisors and managers who allowed it to continue.  These are  top-down, policy level abuses by Butterball who failed to have meaningful oversight, policies and training to prevent this abuse from happening and they allowed a culture of cruelty and neglect to flourish."

As for criminal allegations:

"While our investigator was still inside of this facility, Mercy for Animals reached out to the Hoke County District Attorney's office and on Monday, December 19, Mercy for Animals investigator and director of investigations met with the Assistant District Attorney, Mike Harden of Hoke county to present him with this evidence of animal abuse and violations of North Carolina anti-cruelty statutes.  Acting on leads from this investigation, the Hoke county District Attorney's office secured a search warrant and raided the facility yesterday morning."

And Runkels had some pretty harsh words for the meat industry:

"This investigation graphically illustrates that the meat industry is incapable of self-regulation and undercover investigations and investigators are oftentimes the only meaningful watchdogs, the eyes and ears for the public to expose and enforce the cruelty laws in states."

Runkels explains that it’s MFA’s intention to inform consumers:

"We believe that consumers have the right to know where their food comes from; have a right to know that before ending up in freezer shelves, turkeys killed for Butterball are subjected to unimaginable horrors."

While billing themselves as an animal welfare advocacy group, like others with similar agendas, animal welfare isn’t necessarily their only goal:

"I think certainly the best thing that individual consumers can do is leave animals off of their plates."

And according to Runkels, the investigation continued on Friday with an exhaustive inventory of up to 2,000 birds at that facility.   As of close of business Friday, Garner based Butterball had not returned phone calls in response to the news conference.
 


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