Spring-Summer 2009 Poultry Press NEXT
Investigators See Improvement for Turkeys at Sara Lee Plant Cages Were Covered with Insulated Panels to Protect Turkeys from Cold


In 2007, two animal advocacy organizations - Animals' Angels and United Poultry Concerns - called upon the Sara Lee Corporation to cover its trucks taking turkeys to slaughter in freezing weather. Our campaign grew out of an investigation by Animals' Angels on January 25, 2007 when investigators followed a truck loaded with turkeys on the road for four hours to the Sara Lee slaughter plant in Storm Lake, Iowa. The truck was uncovered, exposing the turkeys to bitter cold and icy winds. Snow and ice stuck to the metal transport cages in which the turkeys were huddled.

saralee-truck-open1 (108K)

Upon arrival at the plant, the turkeys sat for another two hours in frigid 16 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. Evidence of the investigation was presented to Sara Lee with the recommendation to start using tarps or insulated panels to protect the company's turkeys from the cold. UPC and Animals' Angels issued a press release, and our campaign was covered by the Des Moines Register and the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune.

Sara Lee told UPC and Animals' Angels: "Sara Lee and its suppliers use insulated panels on trucks to protect the animals during colder weather." However, insulated panels were not in use during the 2007 investigation. In 2008, UPC and Animals' Angels decided a follow-up investigation was warranted. The aim of the February 2009 investigation was to find out if any improvements had been made.

February 2009 Follow-up Investigation

Animals' Angels investigators documented conditions at the plant on February 3-4, 2009. Inside the fenced premises, they saw two barns with open fronts. The sides and the back of these barns were covered with tarps that protected the turkeys - caged in trailers parked inside the barns - from the weather. When the trailers were moved from the barn to the slaughter plant entrance, the turkeys were exposed to the elements for 1-2 minutes.

On February 4, investigators watched three loaded turkey trucks arrive at the plant. All of the cages were covered with insulated panels. Trucks backed up to the barns, dropped off the trailers with the turkeys inside, picked up empty trailers and left. Threatened with arrest by police for "harassing trucks," Animals' Angels terminated the investigation with intent to file a complaint, noting the investigators weren't illegally interfering, just watching the plant and the trucks.

Based on the observations, it appears Sara Lee has responded to the recommendations of United Poultry Concerns and Animals' Angels, since during the investigators' unannounced visit, significantly improved weather protection was provided for the turkeys slaughtered at the Sara Lee facility in Storm Lake, Iowa on February 3-4, 2009.

Photo by: Animals' Angels
saralee-truck-covered (39K)
Truck arriving at plant with insulated panels.

Photo by: Animals' Angels
saralee-barn (33K)
Barn with tarp covered sides
to protect against weather.
whatcanido (19K)
  • Tell Sara Lee you appreciate the company's apparent response to pleas that it protect its turkeys from exposure to freezing weather by equipping its transport trucks with insulated panels - and closing the panels - enroute to the company's slaughter plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, as documented by Animals' Angels on February 4, 2009.

    Say you are glad that, instead of the turkeys being forced to sit outside the slaughter plant entrance in the freezing cold - as they were forced to do in January 2007 - the turkeys in February 2009 were held in a covered barn.

    Urge Sara Lee to adopt a companywide policy at the national and international level requiring that all birds trucked to the company's slaughter plants be afforded protection from cold weather in the form of closed insulated panels like those observed by the investigators in Storm Lake, Iowa in February 2009. Request a written response to your concerns.


    Brenda C. Barnes, Chairman, CEO
    Sara Lee Corporation
    3500 Lacey Road
    Downers Grove, IL 60515
    Phone: 630-598-6000
    Fax: 630-598-8653

    You can also leave a message for Sara Lee at:

  • Urge the National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council, United Egg Producers, and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association to develop cold weather transport standards for implementation by their member companies such as Sara Lee, Tyson, Butterball and Cal-Maine. The majority of U.S. poultry & egg companies belong to one of these four trade groups. Request that all vehicles taking birds to slaughter in cold weather be equipped with insulated panels - and that the panels be closed during transport. Request a written response to your concerns.


    Joel Brandenberger, President
    National Turkey Federation
    1225 New York Ave. NW, Suite 400
    Washington, DC 20005
    Phone: 202-898-0100
    Fax: 202-898-0203
    Email: info@turkeyfed.org

    George B. Watts, President
    National Chicken Council
    1015 15th St. NW, Suite 930
    Washington, DC 20005-2622
    Phone: 202-296-2622
    Fax: 202-293-4005
    Email: ncc@chickenusa.org

    Gene Gregory, President, CEO
    United Egg Producers
    1720 Windward Concourse, Suite 230
    Alpharetta, GA 30005
    Phone: 770-360-9220
    Fax: 770-360-7058
    Email: gene@unitedegg.com

    John Starkey, President
    U.S Poultry & Egg Association
    1530 Cooledge Road
    Tucker, GA 30084-7303
    Phone: 770-493-9401
    Fax: 770-493-9257
    Email: jstarkey@poultryegg.org

Spring-Summer 2009 Poultry Press NEXT