Feds Investigate Chicken Abuse

MOOREFIELD, W.Va. (AP) - Federal compliance officers have been sent to the Hardy County processing plant where workers are accused
of torturing chickens before slaughtering them.

U-S Department of Agriculture spokesman Steven Cohen says the team will remain in Moorefield until everyone who was present when the abuse occurred at the Pilgrim's Pride plant has been interviewed.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals this week released secretly recorded video of workers stomping, kicking and slamming chickens against walls between October and May.

Texas-based Pilgrim's Pride has since fired eleven employees and has pledged to hold anyone who knew of the abuse accountable.

The U-S-D-A has inspectors at the plant, but their work is mainly indoors. They may not have been in the receiving areas where some of the filmed abuse appeared to occur.

Cohen says the team will speak to those inspectors, as well as managers and employees, to figure out what happened.

Federal inspectors ensure food safety, and that means any birds with bruises or imperfections would be removed from the production

The team will also review records to make sure no damaged poultry entered the food supply.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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