United Poultry Concerns January 3, 2008

Sara Lee’s Mistreatment of Turkeys Covered by Iowa Newspaper

United Poultry Concerns & Animals’ Angels Urge Sara Lee to Protect Turkeys from Cruel Temperatures; Sara Lee Says They Do – Not True! See http://www.upc-online.org/saralee/121907saraleepr.html.

The following article appeared in Storm Lake, Iowa’s Pilot Tribune. Sara Lee runs a turkey slaughter plant in Storm Lake so be prepared for the shrinking of activists’ concerns versus the deference paid to Sara Lee. Clarifications of parts of this article are in brackets. – UPC Editor

Animal rights group tails Sara Lee semi.” Pilot Tribune, Dec. 22, 2007

Activists with United Poultry Concerns are campaigning to change policies at Sara Lee Foods after following trucks transporting birds to the Storm Lake plant, while Sara Lee corporate leaders say they already take animal welfare seriously.

United Poultry Concerns President Karen Davis said a group of “Animals’ Angels” trailed a Sara Lee truck for four hours from Des Moines to Storm Lake to investigate treatment of turkeys in late January [2007]. The UPC has now placed its findings in an online site.

“We just want to have a little better treatment of the turkeys,” Davis told the Pilot-Tribune in a phone interview.

The site said the trucks have open sides, leaving tightly packed live birds bound for the plants exposed to cold and wind.

“Many of the turkeys were in very poor shape with broken legs, missing digits, and signs of frostbite on their heads and toes,” the site claimed. “A few appeared dead and some were crammed into a broken container. There was a large amount of blood on the ceiling of one of the cages.”

The [Animals’ Angels] activists who followed the trucks said that even after arriving, it took another two hours outside in harsh temperatures before the truck pulled up to unload.

When the activists tried to speak to plant representatives about the frostbite issue, they said they were told. We cut those parts off.”

The web site shows photos taken of birds inside the cages in the truck.

Davis said the main thing her group is asking is for Sara Lee to at least add fitted tarps to their trucks to better protect the birds in transit.

“It would be different if they are running around in the forest,” Davis said. “But they are cramped into these little cells.”

“First and foremost, it is important to understand that we take animal welfare very seriously,” a Sara Lee statement responds. “During the transport of live turkeys, Sara Lee and its suppliers use insulated panels on trucks during colder weather to protect the animals from the elements. This method has been found to be as effective as the use of tarps over the trucks and allows for proper airflow critical to ensuring the animals do not experience undue stress and fatalities due to overheating. [You decide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV95U0QF7uY.]

“Many factors are taken under consideration when choosing the most appropriate method of protection, with the top priority being the safe transport of the flock,” Sara Lee’s response continues. “The process is monitored both by Sara Lee employees and state and federal inspectors. It is also subject to verification by third party certified animal welfare auditors.” [Baloney.]

According to Davis, some of the people who contacted Sara Lee [to protest the company’s cruel treatment of turkeys] received similar statements.

Davis stated that she has worked on trying to get humane slaughter legislation passed [to include birds under the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act], but added that it didn’t work.

“We had three statements all prepared when we finally got a subcommittee hearing,” Davis said. “Then we were just laughed off.”

[These three “statements” were comprehensive documents presented as oral testimony before the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, September 28, 1994, by United Poultry Concerns, The Animal Welfare Institute, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. We and the suffering of the birds were “laughed off” by subcommittee chairman Harold Volkmer of Missouri.]

Davis stated companies in Virginia, where her organization is based, place protective barriers on the trucks.

“We don’t get nearly as cold as Storm Lake but even when it’s cold for us they have panels on the trucks,” Davis said. “Since we can’t get legislation passed we are going towards companies and hope they are willing to do it voluntarily.”

Sara Lee officials said they are aware that United Poultry Concerns has lodged a complaint. “We take all complaints seriously and did conduct a thorough investigation into the complaint,” the company said.

According to Sara Lee, their investigation revealed that the truck in question was in full compliance with all local and federal guidelines, and the company said its records did not show any turkey fatalities in transport for that particular shipment.

Sara Lee uses animal welfare guidelines established by the National Turkey Federation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which are routinely reviewed by regulators to ensure compliance.

The Sara Lee release said, “We stand by our compliance with all local and federal guidelines.”

Davis recommends that anyone who may be concerned about treatment of the turkeys should contact Sara Lee President Brenda Barnes or the National Turkey Federation, info@turkeyfed.org. [End of article.]


What Can I Do?

Tell Sara Lee President Brenda Barnes how shocked you are to learn how cruel the company is to these poor birds. Urge Sara Lee to cover its trucks taking turkeys to slaughter with tarpaulins and sideboards. To view Animals’ Angels investigative video, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV95U0QF7uY.
Request a written reply from Ms. Barnes.

Brenda C. Barnes, President, CEO
Sara Lee Corporation
3500 Lacey Road
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
Phone: 630-598-8661
Fax: 630-598-8653

National Turkey Federation (trade association for the U.S. turkey industry)

The National Turkey Federation’s Animal Care Best Management Practices for the Production of Turkeys Guidelines are not at all “strict”! Pages 32-34 of the guidelines on “Live Market Haul” say merely that “Truck travel, distances, weather and other factors can affect the birds’ well-being enroute and must be considered. . . . Wind protection in winter and water cooling in summer is important to minimize stress.” The Guidelines (a very revealing document) can be read at http://www.eatturkey.com/about/service.html.

Urge the National Turkey Federation to develop and implement a strict transportation policy including specific insulation devices such as tarpaulins and sideboards for protecting the turkeys from frigid temperatures, humidity and cold winds. Request a written reply from Mr. Seger and Mr. Brandenberger.

Ted Seger, Chairman
Joel Brandenberger, President
National Turkey Federation
1225 New Yore Avenue NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-898-0100
Fax: 202-898-0203
Email: info@turkeyfed.org
Website: www.eatturkey.com/about/about.html

You can also leave a message for Sara Lee at http://www.saralee.com/ContactUs.aspx.

For more information on our Sara Lee campaign, click on the Sara Lee icon on our homepage at www.upc-online.org.

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

Home | What's New? | News Releases | Action Alerts | PoultryPress | Resources | Merchandise | Links | E-mail