Eleven people working for one of the nation’s leading turkey producers have been charged with animal cruelty in Pennsylvania after state police said they were caught on video kicking, stomping and beating turkeys at several farms.
The workers were responsible for capturing and crating turkeys destined for slaughter, Pennsylvania State Police said Thursday. They launched the probe in August 2021 in response to a complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
An undercover PETA investigator worked on a Plainville Farms crew for about three weeks and captured graphic video that showed workers appearing to mistreat the birds.
The mistreatment took place at farms in Chester, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Perry and Union counties, police said. A total of 139 charges were filed, including six felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 76 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
“This was a lengthy, detailed investigation that involved reviewing a lot of evidence at multiple locations,” said Cpl. Michael Spada, a state police animal cruelty officer.
Plainville advertises its turkeys as “humanely raised,” though the company was suspended from an animal welfare and labeling program run by Global Animal Partnership.
New Oxford, Pennsylvania-based Plainville has “zero tolerance for anything like the alleged actions of these former employees,” said Matt Goodson, the company’s chief executive officer. The company fired the employees implicated in the abuse, began using stationary and body cameras during the catching process, and took other measures to prevent a recurrence, he said.
“Plainville remains committed to the highest welfare standards for our animals and customers. We believe that it’s important for incidents like this to come to light in order to challenge our industry to do better,” he said in a statement Thursday.
The company’s turkey products are sold at supermarket chains including Publix and Wegners.
Plainville employs about 600 workers and slaughtered about 90 million live pounds of turkey last year, according to WATT PoultryUSA, a trade publication.