United Poultry Concerns November 20, 2007

November 19, 2007

Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
12325 Seaside Road, PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
Phone: 757-678-7875

Brenda C. Barnes, President, Chairman, CEO
Sara Lee Corporation
3500 Lacey Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Via email: rosemarie.pisowicz@saralee.com

Dear Ms. Barnes:

I am writing to you on behalf of United Poultry Concerns regarding the trucking of Sara Lee turkeys to slaughter plants in frigid temperatures without protection from the weather. The purpose of my letter is to urge Sara Lee Foods to cover their trucks in cold, windy weather. On January 25, 2007, the livestock investigation organization, Animals’ Angels, followed a densely loaded, uncovered turkey truck for 4 hours to the Sara Lee Foods slaughter plant in Storm Lake, Iowa in subzero temperatures. Investigative photos show ice and snow on the cages and turkeys with broken legs, missing toes and signs of frostbite on their heads and feet. Some birds appeared to be dead and other birds were crammed into broken containers. Investigators reported a large amount of blood on top of one of the cages and birds and cages alike were caked with feces.

Arriving at the plant, the turkeys sat for yet another 2 hours in the open cold as the truck waited in line to enter the plant. The next day, the investigators spoke with two Sara Lee employees about the turkeys’ exposure to the freezing cold and their frostbitten heads and feet and were told “We cut those parts off.” They said the trucks were not tarped because the birds all came from within 15 miles of the slaughter plant. However, the investigators followed a Sara Lee truck for four hours and watched the trailer wait in line at the plant for another two hours.

I am impressed with the statement by Sara Lee’s Executive Director, Theo de Kool, on the corporate Website where he says that “Integrity is more than just being a good person and treating others as you would like to be treated. Integrity is about doing the right thing in every circumstance.” Please see http://www.saralee.com/AboutSaraLee/OurMission/OurValues.aspx?id={442447AE-7F3A-4D89-9789-99D6DBFBC0AF}.

I am gratified by Sara Lee’s commitment to doing the right thing in every circumstance and I accordingly and respectfully urge that the conditions under which the company’s turkeys are being trucked to slaughter be made immediately and permanently right. Sara Lee should cover their turkeys with tarps. On the Eastern Shore of Virginia where we are is located, I often see trucks taking chickens to slaughter with boards on both sides of the cages when the temperature drops. – and temperatures here seldom go as low as they do in Iowa during the winter.

Finally, as you may already know, turkeys and chickens subjected to temperatures below freezing are susceptible to painful frostbite and severe cold stress – hypothermia – in which in which their body temperatures fall dramatically. These birds become more or less comatose and their deaths increase as dehydration and exhaustion overwhelm their ability to warm themselves. Ventilation enabling the birds to breathe can be severely reduced under all temperature extremes, especially for birds who are tightly packed in the transport cages.

I urge Sara Lee Foods to take prompt, effective, and compassionate action by investing in tarpaulins, sideboards and/or other protective devices that will protect all of the company’s turkeys and chickens from the preventable suffering of being forced to endure freezing temperatures and bitter winds both during transport and on the loading docks.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your attention.


Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
PO Box 150
Machipongo, Virginia 23405
Phone: 757-678-7875
Email: karen@upc-online.org

Via Email: November 19, 2007 (to be followed by a letter in the regular mail).

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more information, please visit www.upc-online.org

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

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