Wegmans Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

This is an unofficial blog and informational archive related to the WEGMANSCRUELTY film and resulting campaign.

Please see that page for more information.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Wegmans disputes claims of chicken mistreatment

Sunday, July 17, 2005

By MIKE MASLANIK

Finger Lakes Times

WOLCOTT — Wegmans is crying foul over a documentary that allegedly shows chickens kept in
poor conditions at their Wolcott egg farm.

The 30-minute video, released July 2 by Rochester-based Compassionate Consumers, depicts row upon row of small cages packed with up to nine hens each. Wegmans maintains that the chickens are not being mistreated and claims that portions of the video were not shot at its facilities.

“We think it’s wrong to mistreat animals, and moral issues aside, it doesn’t make sense to harm the animals we rely upon,” said Jo Natale, Wegmans consumer affairs representative.

She added that the Wegmans facility meets or exceeds federal standards.

The animal cruelty investigation started months ago when Wayne County District Attorney

Richard Healy received an anonymous tip. State police and officials from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets looked into the complaint and cleared Wegmans of any wrongdoing.
“The people who operate the egg farm, and they would know, said they don’t believe all the images come from our egg farm,” Natale said.

She added that animal rights groups often use general stock footage in their documentaries.
The problem isn’t with Wegmans, but with the federal standards, said Adam Durand, an investigator with Compassionate Consumers.

He said the group is opposed to “battery farming,” which he said involves keeping hens in small cages and harvesting eggs via conveyor belt.

Stills from the documentary show feces-smeared chickens with their heads or wings tangled in the wire cages. Dead chickens also are shown in the cages.

“We think that if individuals start to realize what’s happening on farms, they’d request more humane treatment,” he said.

The group doesn’t want to hurt Wegmans, Durand added, “but we want to call them out on this one issue.”

Created last year, Compassionate Consumers is a not-for-profit group that advocates for humane treatment of America’s food animals, he said. The documentary is the first major project the group has undertaken.

Natale said Wegmans is talking with local law enforcement about filing charges against the group for the 2004 break-ins.

“This group broke into our farm and compromised the safety of our hens,” she said.

Members of the group, who appear on-camera in the documentary, could face charges ranging from simple trespass to felony burglary, said State Police Inv. Frank D’Aurizio.

The group “rescued” several chickens during the course of filming, Durand said.

He admitted that the group sneaked into the Wegmans farm, but he said they did it because they were denied a tour of the facility.

Members went into the situation knowing they could face jail time, Durand said, adding that the risk is worth it.

“This is very important to us, we’re willing to put our freedom on the line,” he said.

•••

mmaslanik@fltimes.com

1 Comments:

  • At 9:02 PM, Blogger Gary said…

    “This group broke into our farm and compromised the safety of our hens,” she said.

    No, this group showed how Wegmans compromises the safety of their hens. The extreme crowding, genetic uniformity, stress from being denied normal physical and social behaviors, and danger of getting stuck in the cage bars or falling through to the manure pit puts the hens at constant risk. Some hens on their way to dying were rescued by the group; these hens' safety markedly improved.

    Wegmans' integrity is also compromised. Their claim that they care about the hens' welfare is refuted by watching any 2-minute segment of the video. Their assertion that hen welfare is necessary for prolific egg production contradicts acknowledged, widely practiced industry standards.

    Wegmans' random allegation that the footage is not from their egg "farm" (more like a detention center) and their focus on keeping the facility a secret fortress shows their guilt and dishonesty. As does their participation in the bait-and switch "Animal Care Certified" program.

    If, instead of denials and kill-the-messenger counteroffensives, Wegmans takes real measures to make life better for their hens, such as giving them straw perches and more room, and letting them keep their beaks, the company's integrity will be restored, and animal advocacy groups will have no compelling reason to break into their egg facility.

    Wegmans may have corporate lawyers and spinmeisters, but we have two more powerful weapons: the truth, and the boycott. Suggest we use both for maximum leverage - not to sock it to Wegman's, but to reduce cruelty. I'm perfectly happy with giving Wegmans an "out" that lets them save face.

     

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