Pilgrim's Pride, the poultry processor embarrassed after a video from an animal rights group showed workers stomping and kicking live chickens, said Wednesday it had fired 11 employees at its Moorfield, West Virginia, plant where the abuse took place.
The company said it dismissed one superintendent, a supervisor, one foreman, and eight hourly employees following an investigation it began on Tuesday after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released the video.
The videotape documented animal abuses over an eight-month period that ended in May and was made by an undercover investigator for PETA.
The tape, which showed workers at the plant ripping off birds' beaks and stomping and kicking live chickens, was shown on national television as well as on the PETA Web site, prompting the Pittsburgh, Texas–based company to launch an investigation and place monitors at the plant.
"While we are making considerable progress with our investigation, we will continue with this investigation until we're confident that every employee — regardless of rank — who had knowledge of these incidents has been held accountable for their actions," O. B. Goolsby, president and chief operating officer said in a statement.
"We think all that is fantastic. Unfortunately, we don't think it's enough," PETA spokesman Dan Shannon said in response. The animal rights group would like to see the penalties for abusing animals made clear to workers, he said. "There was no doubt in their (workers) mind they could get away with this," Shannon said.
Publicity over the controversial video has taken a toll on Pilgrim's Pride stock, which has lost 6 percent in the past two sessions.
The company supplies KFC, the fast-food chicken chain owned by Yum Brands Inc.
Written by: Judith Crosson, Reuters
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