USDA to Case Farms: Remove False Animal Welfare Claim

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Jan. 9 UPDATE: Since COK published this story, Case Farms has removed its original, incorrect animal welfare statement, as has the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

Jan. 3 update: After COK brought the false claim by Case Farms to the attention of WATTAgNet, the industry news outlet immediately unpublished its article quoting the company’s animal welfare statement. COK has asked U.S. Poultry & Egg Association to do the same and is awaiting a response.

After hearing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one of the nation’s top poultry producers, Case Farms, had to change its claims in a recent animal welfare statement. Why? Because it was touting nonexistent government audits, and the USDA wasn’t going to let that fly.

In September, Compassion Over Killing encouraged our supporters to contact Case Farms, asking the 14th largest chicken producer in the US whether it relies on the practice of using cruel “nose bones” in its male breeder birds.

After hundreds of calls poured in, the company published a statement titled, “Case Farms Commitment to Animal Welfare,” asserting that it does not use nose bones. This puts Case Farms on our growing list of companies that have confirmed they do not use or have stopped using this barbaric practice since it was first exposed on hidden camera by a COK investigator.  

However, in its statement on this issue, Case Farms also added that the company goes through “stringent internal audits conducted by the Agricultural Marketing Service [AMS], a division of the [USDA].”  

Concerned about the validity of this claim, COK took action — and we just uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that this statement is, indeed, patently false.

On September 19, just days after the statement was published, AMS asked Case Farms to remove that claim about the non-existent federal government audits.

As was confirmed by AMS in an email sent to Case Farms, “AMS has NOT conducted any internal or third party audits of this stated animal welfare program.”

In response, Case Farms claimed, in an email to AMS, that the false statement was a “mistake” and created a new statement on its website, which does not make any claims about “stringent” audits or government oversight.

But shockingly, the company has not actually removed it’s old, misleading statement or issued a retraction. In fact, this old, misleading statement is still publicly linked by animal agribusiness publications U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and quoted by industry news site WattAgNet.

Compassion Over Killing is urging both websites to remove this statement from Case Farms or issue corrections.

More importantly, Case Farms should use tangible improvements — rather than inaccurate publicity — to protect the animals in its care. According to a 2017 study conducted by the Animal Welfare Institute, Case’s Morganton, North Carolina, plant racked up the second most federal animal handling violations among poultry plants in the nation between 2015 and 2016.

Case plants were also the subject of a 2017 New Yorker profile in which workers said they were not allowed to take regular bathroom breaks and instead had to wear diapers.

The deplorable conditions in these chicken plants — combined with the lack of accountability for inaccurate portrayals in the media — is just another reason why it is so important that the public have access to real information about what is going on behind the closed doors of factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Donate now to help COK continue conducting groundbreaking undercover investigations that are shedding light on this dark industry. You can also visit ChickenIndustry.com to take action for birds, and find meatless recipes at TryVeg.com.

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