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Undercover video causes stir in US poultry industry

An animal protection organisation in the US has released a hidden-camera video that shows chickens being mistreated by handlers and birds left with untreated wounds in crowded cages.

The video was shot covertly by an undercover investigator with the Mercy for Animals group. Officials with the group said the video was shot this year at Gemperle Enterprises, which supplies giant NuCal Foods Inc., the biggest supplier of eggs in the western US.
"Unfortunately, we believe this abuse is likely rampant across the country," said executive director of the Chicago group Nathan Runkle. "As long as these birds are treated like egg-producing machines, the abuse will likely continue."
NuCal Food referred calls to Chris Myles, a spokesman for the Pacific Egg and Poultry Assn. Myles said the association condemned many of the "graphic images and activities depicted in this film," calling them "in violation of our high standards for animal welfare." He added that the vast majority of egg and poultry farms in California operated in a humane and ethical manner.
However, according to the owner of Gemperle Enterprises, the animal group was using suspect video footage to make accusations that run counter to the policies and practices of his operation. "What I saw on that video is not what our company does," said Steve Gemperle, a second-generation owner of the egg producer. "We do not accept any abuse of farm animals. It's against our values and morals."
Mercy for Animals is asking Merced and Stanislaus counties to launch a criminal investigation into Gemperle Enterprises. Although federal law does not regulate treatment of egg-laying chickens, state animal-cruelty regulations prohibit the mistreatment of the birds, Runkle said.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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