An undercover video reportedly shot at Kreider Farms' egg-producing facilities in Pennsylvania shows dead and mummified birds in cages, live birds caught between wires, and filth caked upon processing equipment. The video, released Thursday by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is part of an investigation into Kreider operations that it says was conducted in February and March 2012.


HSUS says Kreider has about 7 million egg-laying birds at its Pennsylvania facilities, but Kreider puts that number closer to 5 million. The HSUS investigation uncovered cramped, overcrowded cages; injured and dead hens; malnourished birds left without water for days at a time; rodents on egg conveyor belts; and a layer of dead flies on barn floors that "sounded like Rice Krispies" when walked upon. They also said some manure and eggs from some of the barns tested positive for salmonella.


Nicholas D. Kristoff of the New York Times interviewed the HUSU undercover investigator, whose name was not released, who told him that the older Kreider barns contained so much ammonia from manure pits below the structures that it was "physically hard to breathe."


The video, which contains graphic content, appears below:



HSUS is using the investigation to call attention to a bill, H.R. 3798, that would improve living conditions for egg-laying hens. The United Egg Producers, of which Kreider is not a member, supports the proposed legislation.


In response to the HSUS charges, Kreider released a statement saying that spontaneous inspections conducted at three of its chicken houses by the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine on April 11 gave them a "clean bill of health." (The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the USDA are the government bodies in charge of inspecting eggs and chicken farms in that state.) Kreider said it has no evidence that the HSUS video was actually shot at any of its facilities, called the charges a "gross distortion," and says it supports the proposed new government egg standards.


Shooting undercover video at livestock farms has become a contentious issue in recent months. Proposed legislation in several states seeks to ban such activities.


In related news, a recent test conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) looked at chicken products purchased in 10 major cities and found that 48 percent of the 120 products tested contained the bacteria E. coli, which it said is an indicator of fecal contamination. PCRM advocates a vegetarian or vegan diet.


Previously in MNN: