The Power of Undercover Videos

Ciara Smyth

            On Friday, November 18th 2011, McDonald’s and Target announced they were dropping one of their main egg suppliers after videos emerged showing the supplier’s employees engaging in multiple acts of cruelty against its animals.  The undercover videos  shot by the animal activist group Mercy for Animals show various acts of severe cruelty  being committed against the birds at different facilities of Sparboe Farms, a Minnesota based company.

The courageous acts of individuals from organizations like Mercy for Animals, and the internet, have become a farm animals’ best friend.  As blogger George Buchanan correctly states in his discussion of the workers harming the hens, many other animal right organizations have also gone undercover to expose the conditions of poultry farms.  Just recently, after the release of undercover videos taken at a slaughterhouse by Richard Couto and his organization, The Animal Recovery Mission, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the City of Hialeah Police Department arrested an accused ringleader of the illegal slaughterhouse.  He was subsequently charged him with three counts of animal abuse and 40 counts of confining animals without food or water. Rudesindo “Rudy” Acosta and his associates’ acts of brutal violence against hundreds of helpless animals, including cows, horses, sheeps, pigs and ducks, is beyond egregious and completely shocking to the conscience.
           Undercover video taken includes the repeated beating of pigs with sledgehammers while their stomachs are sliced open.  In one instance, “the killer actually put his hand in the pig’s jugular and ripped it out with his bare hands” said Couto.  Investigators also allege that animals were butchered and boiled alive in some instances.  Another video shows a cow struggling to stay alive after being shot.  Its head is draped over a bucket and a knife rammed into its throat. “I can’t imagine what that animal was going through,” said Couto. Animals are kept aliive to slowly bleed out because the blood has monetary value and is used to make blackened sausage.  Investigators told reporters that more slaughterhouse raids could be coming. They say they’re not going to allow this kind of animal abuse in their city. Just last week, the accused ringleader made his first appearance in Miami-Dade County bond court.  The judge set bail for $500,001.  Yup – over half a million dollars – now this is a judge I would like to shake hands with! Continue reading

Workers Caught Harming Hens

More on the Sparboe mess…:

George Buchanan
  Sparboe Farms, which runs facilities in Colorado, Iowa, and Minnesota, that supply both Target and McDonalds with eggs, was dropped by the two companies due to animal cruelty. A group called Mercy for Animals filmed “hens crammed in crowded cages, workers burning beaks and one, trying to shove a bird inside the pocket of a co-worker, apparently for fun. Another worker presses his thumb against the back of a chick’s neck until it breaks

The egg supplier, Sparboe Farms, was also sent a warning letter earlier in the week by the FDA, which “found ‘serious violations’ after visiting five of the companies’ production facilities, including failure to have and implement a written Salmonella Enteritidis prevention plan and failure to prevent stray poultry, wild birds, cats and other animals from entering poultry houses.”   Both PETA and The Humane Society have complained, and released videos of the inhumane treatment that occurs at these poultry facilities in years past. But, perhaps with huge corporations such as McDonalds and Target pulling their accounts from egg suppliers, like Sparboe Farms, other suppliers will take notice and not only set standards that conform with anti-cruelty laws; but will also keep an eye on their employees to ensure the treatment that cost Sparboe Farms the lucrative accounts of McDonalds and Target, does not take place at their egg supplying facilities.    Continue reading

Happy Meals No More in San Francisco

David Cassuto

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to prohibit Happy Meals (and their ilk) from having toys until the nutritional content is improved.  The mayor has promised to veto it but the 8-3 margin of passage is veto-proof.  Some skinny:

“Under the proposal, restaurants would be barred from giving away the popular toys unless the meals contain fewer than 600 calories and fewer than 640 milligrams of sodium. In addition, no more than 34 percent of the calories could be derived from fat (less than 10 percent from saturated fat), except for fat found in nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese. In terms of beverages, fewer than 35 percent of the total calories could come from fat, and fewer than 10 percent from added sweeteners.

And then there are the items that San Francisco’s lawmakers say must be included in the meals: at least a half-cup of fruit and three-quarters a cup of vegetables, except for breakfast meals. Those only must contain a half-cup or more of fruit or vegetables.”    Continue reading

Big Macs are Cheap and McNuggets are…

diet food?  Maybe it’s all the Portuguese I’m hearing but it feels like English has stopped making sense. 

David Cassuto

Food Fight at McDonald’s

David Cassuto

So a woman throws a tantrum and destroys some property when her McDonald’s meal is prepared wrong (apparently, she was “unhappy with her cheeseburger”).  Some foundational questions: how does one prepare such a thing “right?”  And how would one know?

Why I’d Rather Feed My Child Dirt Than a School Lunch

David Cassuto

I’ve been trying to figure out what it says about this country that McDonalds  sets higher standards for its flesh products than the USDA does for school lunch programs. At a minimum, it says that we care almost as little about our children as we do about the animals we torture and slaughter to feed them.

Perhaps this should prompt a reexamination.

Or maybe we should just ignore it and pretend everything is fine.  Yeah, yeah; that’s the ticket.