Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.
Sunday, November 30, 2003
More on Inspection Problems
I read an article this morning that was in
USA Today entitled, "Food safety chief
scolds inspectors" that I thought I should
bring attention to. Basically the top guy was
chewing out the inspectors for allowing the
industry to run roughshod over them and
stifle all attempts to enforce the regulations.
That, and yesterday's post, reminded me of
several attempts made by me and another
worker to test the inspectors to see if they
were really very diligent in finding violations.
I once stuck my hand in the blood and smeared
it on the wall up as high as I could reach just to
see how long it would be before someone did
something about it. It dried and flaked off. No
one ever said a word. It took it about 3 weeks
to do that. No inspector ever said anything.
I also once took a severed head and put it in
the little box with the thermostat to see how
long that would take. It laid there until the
maggots ate it up. No one ever did anything
about it either, even though everybody on back
dock and everybody that walked back there saw
it. You couldn't help but see it if you walked
into the hanging cage. Again, no inspector
found a thing.
One time a Mexican guy named Hermillio was
talking to me and another guy about the poor
sanitation in the plant and the failure of the
inspectors to do anything about it. I told him,
"I bet you could spread sh*t on the walls and
they would never notice it."
He said, "Let's find out." So, he went into the
bathroom, took a dump, got a stick, picked up
a turd, and smeared it on the wall of the break
room. Yes, it stayed there until it flaked and fell
off. Yet again, no inspector said or did a thing.
What passed for an inspection of back dock
when I was there was for the inspector to walk
through at break time or stand around in the
back dock break room for a few minutes, then
leave. This is the only place inside the building
for them to smoke, so they would stand in the
break room to do that, then move on. That
was the extent of the inspection. I have seen
them do that and sign off on it. I would testify
to that in court.
Inspections are a joke because the industry
intimidates the inspectors. They even sue them
personally for lost production time if they think
they can get away with it. Check out the article.
Even the head guy knows there are problems.
Well, our Tofurkey was wonderful! It
was a bit different from turkey, but still
very good, especially with the "giblet"
gravy that goes with it. I hope you all
enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as
we did here.
Now, back to business. I read a very
disturbing article this morning. It was
in the San Francisco Chronicle that was
entitled, "Ominous signs of severe flu
outbreak, Doctors say season could be
worst in several years."
Apparently experts are predicting a really
bad problem with the flu this year. They
blame several different things for this
line of thought, including the fact that
people have become more complacent
in the past few years about getting the
Apparently this year they have already had
more positive lab results for the virus than
they usually have in the peak of the flu
season, 171 cases compared to 60, and
it is still early in the season.
There is an ominous quote in the article
from Dr. Roger Baxter, a Kaiser infectious
disease specialist who has been monitoring
"It's hard to say exactly what to make of it.
The numbers are truly startling. I think there's
a very large outbreak out there."
He has even done an unprecedented thing:
urging people with coughs and other flu symptoms
to wear a face mask when they visit the doctor's
There have already been 4 children die in
Colorado this year from the flu. We have
several states already experiencing some
problems besides California and Colorado.
It is also widespread in Texas and Nevada.
But the most alarming things I read in this
article were these paragraphs:
Virulent forms of the flu virus may be lurking
in flocks of chickens and ducks, the source
of recent outbreaks in Hong Kong, Canada
and the Netherlands.
Direct poultry-to-human transmission, which
had never been documented before 1997, now
appears to happening with alarming frequency.
Now, in all fairness, they do also say that:
(emphasis mine, as always)
avian flu microbes that have emerged so far
apparently lacked the genetic equipment needed
to spread easily from person to person. But the
virus has a proven knack for changing
unpredictably into forms that can greatly increase
They go on to note that:
There has been a dramatic increase in reported
outbreaks of influenza in birds and other animals
that are the source of the disease-causing
microbes afflicting humans. Given the newfound
ability of certain flu bugs to jump straight from
birds to people, all that's missing for the next
pandemic to start is a pathogen capable of moving
rapidly from person to person.
This got me to thinking about all the many, many
poultry houses around this area and the high
number of people coming in contact with the
chickens raised in them. If this was ever to
break out around here, it would be catastrophic.
What more incentive do we need to quit giving
all these antibiotics to these farmed animals?
We are teetering on the brink of brewing up
a killer bug in these cesspools of disease that
pass for factory farms. How long before the
dreaded "superbug" comes out? Will it be
a variety of the flu? Or something worse?
Who knows? There appears to be agreement
between the experts that we are overdue
for such an occurrence. With the way the
industry has things set up - with all this
concentration of animals in small places - it
is just a matter of time until something
really bad happens to a lot of people.
I know I would feel a lotbetter if I didn't
live in an area surrounded by chicken
houses where I know that diseases breed.
I find it very interesting that since I quit
working down at Tyson around all those
sick birds they were shipping out to the
unsuspecting public, I have not been
getting sick all the time anymore. In fact,
I have been extremely healthy since I got
out of that hellhole. I used to have a
constantly runny nose, throwing up a lot,
unexplained fevers that would come and go,
and other medical problems. Many of them
I never really noticed until after I was no
longer down there being exposed all the time.
Did you know that I was prohibited from
telling anyone about all the sick chickens
we were running that were making us all
sick? I was threatened with my job for
even telling my doctor, who was treating
me for the illnesses I picked up from the
handling of sick chickens. Luckily, at the
time, my wife spoke up anyway, defying
Tyson to do something about it, and told
the doctor what was going on. Then, he
was able to give me the correct antibiotics
for what I had been exposed to. Of course,
he was appalled that we were running and
shipping sick birds, but he couldn't tell
anyone, either, because of confidentiality
laws. So, Tyson got away with it over and
over again. And still does.......
BTW - this occurred shortly before I lost my
job down there. In fact, it was probably the
illness coming back on me from repeated
exposure to the pathogens that I was sick
with when they fired me. I had missed 2 days
and gotten my doctor's excuse, but of course,
you all know that they didn't even want to see
it. I still have it, though, along with the letter
from the hospital sent by certified mail informing
me that I needed a CAT scan on my sinuses.
Unfortunately for me, that never happened
because I lost my job and insurance that week,
so I still don't know the long-term health effects
I will have to endure from working with such a
high number of infected birds.
Maybe it won't matter if we all die from the
superflu. Maybe Tyson hasn't read or seen
Stephen King's "The Stand." More likely,
though, they just don't care as long as they
are making money.
Today's post will be rather quick because we
have a lot to do to get ready for the day's
feast, but I wanted to say a few quick things
this morning before we got busy.
First of all, I hope everyone enjoys their
holiday today. We are planning on having
a Tofurkey for the first time. I will let you
know how it was. We are looking forward
to trying it. We have been poring over some
different recipes for the last week trying to
decide how best to prepare it. I think we
finally decided on the one that is featured
on the Tofurkey site. Thanks to Paul Shapiro
over at COK for helping us with advice on
proper cooking of our Tofurkey. We'll let you
know how it went.
Some of you may have also noticed a change
on the page I added yesterday and forgot to
mention until I had already clicked on the
button to publish my post. I have added the
Google site search feature to the page so
that readers can more easily find the posts
relating to specific things, instead of having
to pore through all the archives in order to
find out about something. I hope this makes
things easier for everyone, especially since
my current Blogger format does not allow me
to have permalinks to specific titles of older
posts. I have tried this out and it does work
quite well. I will continue to try to improve
the site as I learn more about how to do things
like this. Thanks to you-know-who-you-are
for helping me get this on the page properly.
Thanks to everyone for your continued support
and interest. I hope you have a happy, cruelty-
free Thanksgiving. (Or, at least a happy one.)
I know I will. Bring on the Tofurkey!!!! :-)
I was corresponding with another activist
yesterday. I had been asked about how
effective an inspection of humane treatment
could be. Say, if Tyson were to bring a
USDA inspector to their plant to certify
them as being "humane" in their treatment
of the chickens.
Well, as I pointed out to him, there are a
number of problems associated with trying
to inspect the back dock hanging cage while
it is in operation. Regular readers might
remember that the hangers work in the dark
under a blacklight so as not to upset the
chickens and make it harder to hang them.
The black light is also shaded and of low
wattage so that it only shines on the belt
itself and not on the whole room.
Halfway across the room from the hanging
belt, you couldn't see your hand in front of
your face. Some of the accidents that have
happened back there prove that. People
run into other people and trip on stuff that
they couldn't see. There was a guy that
walked across the floor once and stuck his
toe in a 6.5' tall exhaust fan. Now, I am sure
he wouldn't have done that if he could have
seen the thing. Aren't you?
Now, either an inspector would have to
stand there in the dark, unable to see, or
he would have to turn on lights. Now, let's
think about this for a minute.
This work is done in the dark so as to not
upset the chickens. This only partially works,
but it helps. When light is shown into the
hanging cage, the chickens go wild and the
hangers get mad at whoever opened the door
and let the light in. Not only does this light
upset the chickens, but if a bunch jumped
off the belt in their excitement and you had
several thousand birds running around the
floor, the hangers would have to spend their
break catching them. This would make them
extremely upset, as you could imagine.
Therefore, usually the reaction to this door
being held open to let light in would be met
with yells and curses from the workers, then
followed quickly by chickens being thrown at
the person holding the door open. They
don't just toss them, either. They throw
them hard enough to splat against the wall,
so if they were to hit you, it would definitely
make you close that door, which is what they
want you to do. They will do whatever it takes
to get you to shut that door, even if one of
them has to walk off the line and push you
out of that doorway to close the door.
Now, suppose that Tyson did want to have
an inspector examine the hanging cage while
in operation. Obviously, even after they work
through the light vs. dark problem, they would
have to alert the workers as to who that was
standing there holding that door open. It
obviously would never do to have workers
chunking chickens at the inspector, would it?
It also would obviously not be good for the
company if the inspector was standing there
with all the lights on. Can you imagine what
it would look like to have 2000 panicked, crazed,
frightened, and fighting chickens everywhere,
with workers trying to hang them? That would
be total chaos and Tyson would complain that
the inspector was unnecessarily interrupting
the work schedule. This is not done without
a very good reason or he would lose his job.
I have seen inspectors get fired for that.
In fact, that is Tyson's favorite blanket charge
against any inspector that gives them problems.
It works well, too. These inspectors just aren't
allowed to do their jobs right. They try, but
the power of Tyson will always stand between
them and their job.
When I worked down there, if any type of VIP
was to be coming around, we all knew about it
hours, or even days or weeks ahead of time.
The last OSHA inspection that we had when I
was down there - we knew a week ahead of time
that they were coming.
The main thing is to remember that these little
inspections are all but meaningless. They are
mostly staged just so that the company can say
they have passed inspection. If they want to
monitor what goes on in that hanging cage,
they would have to have low-light cameras
mounted in front of and in back of the hangers.
Anything less is not an effective inspection.
They just can't see anything back there. And
if they shine light in there, they can't stand there
long enough to see much, a few seconds at most.
So, don't believe everything you read. And
certainly don't believe everything Tyson says.
We all know what big liars they are, anyway.
Ol' Ed Nicholson is their biggest liar, in fact
their Official Liar. Kind of reminds me of old
al-Sahaf, "There are no abused chickens here!
It's all AR infidel propaganda!"
I read an article the other day that came
out on the 19th in the Washington Times
about the possibility of "agri-terrorists"
contaminating the food supply.
The first paragraph went like this:
Officials, lawmakers and experts warned
Wednesday that it would be "relatively easy"
for al-Qaida terrorists to carry out a
devastating attack on American agriculture,
starting an epidemic that would cost the
lives of millions of animals and bring the
nation's economy to its knees.
They used the example of foot and mouth
disease, pointing out that it is "the most
virulent disease known to man" and that
computer simulations showed that "a single
attack could infect animals in more than 20
states before it was recognized."
Oh, but that's not all. Not by a long shot.
They went on to say that:
...one such simulation showed that even if
all animal movement was banned after eight
days, more than 26 million animals would have
to be destroyed, either because they might
have been exposed to the disease, or to
create a epidemiological "firebreak" to block
the spread of infection.
Now, what do you imagine the reason for this
is? They admitted that:
...one reason for the accelerated spread was
the fact that 80 percent of beef cattle pass
through 2 percent of the nation's feedlots...
Senator Durbin D-Ill. also pointed out this fact:
Virtually every agricultural state in the union has a
state fair...suggesting that - given the growing
concern about agri-terror - these events might
need to be rethought.
It gets even worse from there when:
Several of the witnesses and panel members
recalled that hundreds of pages of U.S. agricultural
documents had been recovered from a safe house
in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
But, here is where it really got interesting to me:
Lawmakers were clearly concerned about
the diffuse fashion in which the responsibility for
countering and responding to agri-terror were
spread among an alphabet soup of more than 30
Now, this comes after we read lately about how
our wonderful government and administration
is protecting America's food supply. They have
been positively gushing lately about the fall in
salmonella contamination in several stories I
read. However, that didn't seem to matter
when it comes to "agri-terror." I love the quote
that Durbin gave in this story. Check this out:
"We don't have our act together in Washington
by a long shot."
Now, doesn't that make you feel all safe about
that next fast food meal you give your child?
The article even pointed out that this audience
of people (who are entrusted with the safety of
the food supply for America) was "spoken for"
by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J when he said
that he was:
"overwhelmed" by what he had heard
Well, let's see where we stand now with regard
to whether we can trust that they are telling us
the truth about the safety of our food.
1) We channel the vast majority of the animals
raised for food in filthy, disease-infested conditions
in this country into very small distribution channels
where even the animals that have miraculously
up to this point been free of disease are mixed
with others who are sick.
2) Then we process the clean meat alongside the
contaminated and cross-contaminate much of that.
3) We genetically manipualte them and give them
all sorts of chemicals, hormones, and drugs.
But, the USDA and the industry are always trying
to convince people of the safety of this meat
because of all these regulations (that, by the way,
the industry says are too stringent and are being
weakened all the time).
Now, we have a situation where they are forced to
admit that there is nothing they can do to protect
the American people. Surely one would think that
something would be done immediately to address
this situation. But, of course, there is always the
same problem that has always existed when anyone
starts talking about improving anything in the
factory farming industry.
Apparently our friendly senator from N.J. that was
so "overwhelmed" by what he had heard was also
a bit scared by the knowledge he gained in this
meeting. But, he noted that what needs to be
done would be a problem. Why?
"...because of the enormous cost of preparing
for this kind of attack."
Well, hasn't that been the situation all along?
These multi-billion-dollar corporation just can't
seem to be able to afford things like that, any more
than can afford to make other improvements
that would make things better. Poor them. Their
profits might suffer.
So, probably what will happen is that the industry
will get on its knees and wrap its arms around
legislators' knees and whine and cry about how they
would go out of business if they had to worry
about all this safety stuff. They may even throw
in the argument about all those poor people out
there that wouldn't be able to afford to buy their
product if they had to increase the price due to
increased overhead. Of course, we all know what
that means. It means that the average taxpayer,
whether they eat meat or not, will probably have
to pay for this, just like the other subsidies that
are given to this poor, struggling, industry that
just has so much trouble competing on the world
stage without cutting lots of corners.
In other words, meat will probably cost a whole
lot more than it does now, but it just won't
show up on the packaged product. That way
the industry can keep the myth going that they
are actually providing cheap food for the
consumer. The price tag on that package of
meat might not go up, but tax dollars that
would have been spent on something more
worthwhile, like educating our kids or taking
care of our retirees, will go to places like
Tyson so that they can stay "competitive."
I am sure it will make some little old lady
that can't afford to pay her bills or get
proper medical treatment feel real happy
to know that the tax dollars that might
have helped her have gone into Tyson's
deep pockets to make her food "safe,"
since they couldn't afford it themselves.
What's even more ironic is that the
health conditions that little old lady is
suffering probably had something to do
with a lifetime diet of eating this "safe"
food because of all the chemicals, hormones,
and antibiotics in it, along with all the other
unhealthful fats and other compounds.
So, we subsidize them to make us sick and
then we subsidize them again so that we
can't get well. Sounds like they win all around,
but the poor consumer is still no better off.
Lately I have been receiving various
pieces of correspondence with regard
to funding for my endeavor. I thought
I would deal with this issue today, as
it seems to be becoming more important
lately with the increased time I have
spent doing this work.
For a long time I did not seek any sort of contributions because of the fact that
there were some people who had the
incorrect assumption that I was selling
my story for money, thus questioning
the motives behind my coming out with it.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have done this because I felt it was an
important thing to do and because I care
about this issue very much.
However, so far, up until a few weeks
ago, I was receiving unemployment
and was able to devote a good bit of
my time to activism. With my increased
search for work lately, though, my efforts
have been affected, as most of my regular
readers have probably noticed.
After much discussion and correspondence
with supporters of this site and my work,
I put up a PayPal donations button the
other day. I just didn't say anything
about it. I don't want anyone to feel like
I am pressuring them to send me money
or anything. This site was never set up
with that intention in mind.
I will keep on doing this work, no matter
what happens. However, naturally, the
more time I can devote to my work, the
more effective I can be in it.
So, while I will not cease my search for
employment, I am now considering the
option of turning this fight against the
factory farming industry into a full-time
job. This will depend on whether there
are enough people that are interested
in helping in this endeavor, though.
All I am saying, is that I have now set
up a means for those who wish to
contribute to this effort for those that
are able to do so. If you are struggling
to make ends meet, keep your money.
I'll survive, and I will keep on doing this
whether I ever receive a single penny
for it. It means that much to me.
I do not charge for use of the material
on this site. The only thing I require is
that it not be sold for profit, but offered
as freely as I have offered it to you. I
do hold copyright, but anyone is free to
publish whatever they find to help the
animals. Several people and organizations
have done so, and the blog has been
translated into French and Dutch by a
couple of dedicated activists overseas.
(If there are any other languages, let me
know. I am always interested in hearing
from readers on how they are able to use
the material I have given here.)
Basically, I am saying that I will be able
to do more with help than I can do alone,
which is obvious. We do have some ideas
for expanding the work, if the situation
allows. We have an offer of expanding
the site into our own domain, but we
know nothing about site design and writing
code. We also thought of a sanctuary of'
some type for rescued chickens and other
animals, but these things are in the future.
Thanks everyone for your continued interest
and support. I appreciate all of you and answer
every email I receive (unless it's spam!)
Lately, there has been gathering interest
in what I have to say here. There have
been a few questions as to whether an
individual such as myself (with such a
history of violence and other problems
associated with the environment I was
in) could truly be an activist now.
This has been especially hard for those
who know me to accept because it seems
to go so far outside the realm of possibility
of what they would expect me to do. They
question my sincerity and motives. I have
even been accused of making a bunch of
money off this site. Boy, is that a laugh!
It costs me money to fight this fight. I
don't make money off of it. This fight has
cost me my job, and I have borne all the
expense of setting up and maintaining
this site. I can hardly call that making
money off of it.
I started trying to change things from
within the plant when I worked there. I
was always the one to speak up for the
workers that were afraid to speak up for
themselves. This whole thing started as
a way to get better working conditions
for us workers down at the plant back
when I still worked there.
Unfortunately, I didn't get much support
for my efforts, and was only rarely able
to accomplish very much. Anyone who
has read this entire blog knows how bad
the working conditions are down there
as well as how unsafe this type of job is.
I think I have made that abundantly clear.
It is a horrible job for little pay. Most
people don't stop to think about where
that meat on their plate came from.
They don't want to think about the
animal that suffered and died any more
than they want to think about the poor
guy standing there on the line at the
slaughter plant having to kill it for them.
I don't know how many times I have
heard a meat-eater tell me that they
couldn't do that kind of job for a living.
And that they couldn't understand how
Well, there are thousands of people that
do that job every day and every night so
that the general public doesn't have to.
They don't have to see the filth. They
don't have to see the blood spurt and
congeal. And they don't have to hear
the animal scream in pain and fear. These
plant workers do.
The more I started talking about every-
thing that happened down there with
my wife and others outside the plant,
the more I began to see that what was
happening was even more wrong than
I had previously thought. It had always
bothered me, but that first time Laura
saw back dock's hanging cage, I was
ashamed of what I did for a living. At
that time, I was still working there.
That was the first time I had ever been
ashamed of what I did for a living in my
life and it made me start to really think
about it. The guilt continued to grow
and eat me up inside for all the innocent
beings I had been part of killing for so
long. People that know me don't want
to admit it, but I think that deep down
they feel the same way, too.
When my first attempts failed to work, I
decided to take a different tactic. I
decided to see if someone cared about
what the chickens were going through,
since no one seemed to care about the
workers so much (at least not enough
to actually do anything).
My feeling was that if things were better
for the chickens, then they would be better
for the workers. At this point in my mind,
I cared about what the chickens went
through (always had, but was frequently
helpless), but I still ate meat and didn't
feel the same as I do today.
I have given some pretty graphic images
on this blog in order to bring attention
to the inherent problems with the factory
farming industry, which faces more and
more deregulation all the time.
Yes, through my work, I have quit eating
meat and have become more sensitive to
the plight of many other animals we share
this planet with. The feelings are genuine
and continue to grow.
Once you start down the path of caring,
it is hard to stop. And why should I?
Why would I want to? Why should you?
Before I get into today's post, I just
had to bring these two articles to
everyone's attention. This is just too
good to let go by without at least a
little bit of a chuckle. Okay, maybe
it is worth a good belly laugh, even.
A bit of gloating and definitely an "I
told you so!" Ha ha ha!
You will no doubt notice the connection
between the two articles, even if KFC
doesn't want to admit it. I guess this
is just one more case of denial on the
part of the industry.
This first article talks about the fact
that the FTC is investigating KFC for
their deceptive advertising. It was
quite good, and also mentioned KFC's
announcement that, coincidentally,
they were "concluding this promotional
period" anyway, with new ads.
The second one goes a little farther
behind what is happening with the
investigation and says that KFC is
going to "discontinue the spots 'for
brand protection reasons.'
Whatever they say, it was a dumb
idea and an attempt to mislead the
public about the healthiness of their
Now, on to what I wanted to talk
The Grannis chicken plant was the home
of some of the biggest, meanest rats I
believe I have ever seen in my life. I'm
sure everybody's heard about rats big
enough to whip a cat.
Well, I personally saw a really big one in
the parking lot one night run off a stray
beagle over a dead chicken that had fallen
off of one of the trucks. It was at least
as big as a full-grown house-cat, but not
quite as tall, only because rats don't have
legs as long as cats. But, its body was
the same size. It could probably have
gotten three of a man's fingers in its
mouth, it was so big.
Between the rats and the stray pets, the
problem had gotten so bad that the little
town of Grannis had started a pest control
program around the plant. They put out
these plastic traps with bait in them to
catch them. They looked kind of like giant
Combat roach traps or something and were
bolted to some source of plate to keep
them from being interfered with.
The idea is to lure the animal into the trap
where it eats some kind of a real fast-acting
poison that kills them and won't let them
back out of the trap. They checked them
once a day at the end of cleanup, just before
our shift started. (I don't know if this is still
going on or not, but it was when I left.)
It wasn't getting enough of them to really
make much of a dent in the population. We
were always having trouble with rats and
strays around there.
We had a mother cat have her kittens in the
main electrical exchange box. No one knew
until it was too late and it shorted out, cutting
the electricity off to back dock, the maintenance
shop, the ice room, front-line, and tote wash
(basically, the front half of the plant and the
maintenance shop where everything has to
be fixed at). It took the half the night to get
it all straightened out. Sadly, of course, it
fried those poor kittens and their mama.
I have seen rats drag cripples and DOAs across
the floor right behind us. I saw some of them
fighting as best they could, but the rats would
just drag them over in the corner and munch
down on them. Some of them were eaten alive.
There was a guy that worked down there that
was a speed freak. One night, we were all
sitting around the break room and there was
a rat over in the corner, behind the water
fountain. He took a crust of bread that I had
pulled off my sandwich because it had touched
the table, and put a little crystal meth on it and
threw it to the rat. It ate it and then came
running out of the corner, stood up on its hind
legs, looking mean at us. Then it ran over into
the hanging cage, jumped up onto the belt, and
bit the head right off of a chicken. When it
jumped back on the floor with the head in its
mouth, it flopped over and starting kicking,
The dude said he was "conducting an experiment
to see how good his crystal was." Evidently,
it was pretty good.
I did indeed see some really weird things in
my years working for Tyson. You just never
know what you are going to see happen in
a given night, and you learn not to be very
surprised by bizarre acts. I used to call it
"The Human Circus."
The problem was that the circus rarely
involved only humans. It could involve
almost anything a twisted mind could
come up with, especially one suffering
from boredom with the monotony that
goes with this kind of line job.
There was no shortage of twisted minds
down at that place.
Yesterday's post reminded me of the
issue of pulling the tags off of product
There are two reasons something would
have a tag on it:
1) USDA found it to be contaminated in
some way, and it has to be cleaned up or
2) Maintenance may be working on a piece
of machinery and have it locked out, in
which case removing that tag could cause
the maintenance men to be either seriously
injured or killed.
There were quite a few different instances
of tags being removed while I was down at
Grannis. It wasn't a regular thing, but it
did happen, and it is not supposed to ever
happen for any reason at all. When those
inspectors put tags on things, it is especially,
important because of the fact that not just
that meat, but any meat that it comes in
contact with, will be contaminated also. The
same goes for any worker who touches it
and then touches more meat.
If a worker even touches something that
an inspector has tagged, he is supposed
to go wash completely, but that is never
enforced. One carcass can infect hundreds,
or even thousands more with salmonella,
campylobacter, etc. All these go out to
different points and the problem snowballs.
That is the reason that the tags are so important.
There were several different times that I
have heard different people say that the
supervisor had told them to take the tag
off of something. This was especially bad
among the Quality Control people. Some
of them quit over this problem.
One of the QC guys I spoke to on a regular
basis over this problem was a man that
I carpooled with for two years and knew
all my life. He told me of three different
instances of him pulling tags, all of which
were on a Sunday night. They were on
pallets that had been sitting out of the
freezer all weekend at room temperature.
You could tell by the smell that it was
spoiled. He said that one of the super-
visors joked one time that you couldn't
tell the difference once they put them
in nuggets and then added that the
Colonel would put some of the recipe
on it and it would be fine.
He finally quit because he was afraid
that a bunch of people would get sick
and it would all be blamed on him. He
quit and moved away. (I am withholding
his name because he is a friend that I
do not wish to bring the wrath of Tyson
down upon. Not everyone wishes to go
up against them like I have. I respect
that. They are huge and have a lot of
power. At least he is not part of the
Maintenance practiced a lock-out tag-out
policy when they were working on a piece
of machinery down there for safety reasons.
They would always put a tag on the switch
of the piece of the machinery they were
working on so that no one would turn it
on while they were at risk.
The dump was one place in particular
where I saw two guys get nearly killed.
They were under there working on something
underneath the dump at startup time. The
maintenance guy had his little tag on the
switch, and the supervisor just ran up there
and turned the dump on anyway. He just
started running cages up. If the maintenance
guy hadn't ducked his head in time, he would
have had it crushed between two cages of
In another situation, the guy got his leg
broken when it was trapped between two
cages for the same reason. The only difference
was that he was working on the roller bed
instead of under it.
Pulling these tags off is illegal, but it is not
enforced. The inspector can come back
and ask who pulled it off, but all that will
happen is that a group of about 20 guys
will stand there, saying, "I don't know."
How do you enforce that? There are only
eight inspectors and 500 employees. They
do the best that they can, but their hands
are tied because they lack the authority to
really do much. They are like a cop without
a badge or a gun. About all they can do is
shake their finger, and if they do even that
enough times, they will find themselves
in a very inhospitable environment, shall we
say. Some lose entire careers.
The attitude toward the inspectors really
gets me. They should be working together
to produce a safe product, but instead it is
like they are at war with each other. There
was constantly some sort of bickering going
on between the inspectors and the management.
But, of course, line-workers couldn't even
speak to them, on or off the job. I talked
about that issue before in another post.
There are plenty of stories out there if you
know where to look. Most people just don't
want to know. And Tyson takes full advantage
of that fact, just like they take advantage of
everything and everybody they can.
Guess what I found this morning? A
fellow blogger, living in the Ouachitas,
that also worked at Tyson. Now, what
are the odds of that?
But, the thing that made me the gladdest
was that he backed up several things that
I have said and brought up an issue I don't
think I have talked much about. Check out
what he had to say:
I have little sympathy for chickens, but
he tells it like it is about Tyson's operations.
I worked in a Tyson plant back in the 1980s.
I've seen the aptly-described "fecal soup"
of the chiller tanks where the chickens roil
around after they've been killed, scalded,
beheaded and so on. I've seen the plant
running full production when the water
used in processing was running yellow-
brown. The USDA knew it too, but the
head inspector refused to let the subordinate
inspectors shut the plant down.
I can talk about ammonia leaks too. Once
an ammonia line in the big frozen-storage
room ruptured and soaked thousands of
cases of product with ammonia. They had
us repack it all in new boxes. Just the smell
of the ammonia off the boxes was sickening,
and we were doing that all day for several
days in a row until it was all done.
And it was not at all unheard of for some
supervisor to remove the USDA "hold" tags
from a few pallets of questionable product
after the inspector left in order to meet the
He also agreed with my thoughts on the
power of the huge corporations, like Tyson
and Wal-Mart. He especially seems to hate
Wal-Mart. I was quite amused by some of
his writing. He has a good sense of humor,
and I was glad to find him.
There aren't too many bloggers from these
rural parts (at least none that I am aware
of) and I was glad to find him, especially
since it is so hard for me to find anyone
around here to talk about what goes on
down at Tyson. They have way too much
influence and control around here for many
people to want to speak out against them,
at least publicly. You could almost feel the
buzz coming off of houses in the area from
private bitch sessions of the workers. But,
they know better than to come out in
public and say bad things about them. For
way too many, Tyson is not only their bread
and butter, but their family's too.
Maybe more will come out with time. We
will see how many have the courage to do
so. Meanwhile, I will be keeping my eyes
and ears open for whatever else I find.
I read an article this morning about a raid
over in Gainesville, GA on Fieldale Poultry
by the Hall County Sheriff's Office on a
joint investigation with United States
Immigration and Customs Enforcement to
search their personnel records after they
made an arrest of an illegal that used to
work there. I guess he must have ratted
out the company for helping to get him
set up with work or something because they
said that they do expect to make arrests.
That reminded me of one of the raids that
went on down at Tyson while I worked there.
We were all in there doing our job. I was
working day shift then. This was back in
about 1992 or so when this one happened.
I was in the hanging cage. We were all just
standing there hanging chickens when all of
a sudden the door popped open and there
stood 8 guys dressed like USDA inspectors.
They just came right on walking in the hanging
cage, which was real unusual. They didn't
usually just walk in and walk right up to the
line like that.
That was when I noticed a semi-automatic
pistol handle sticking out from under one of
their smocks. About the same time I noticed
that the other white-smocked men had bulges
at their waists and under their left arms that
were consistent with handguns. My first
thought was, "My God, the USDA's gone postal!"
The line came to a sudden stop about the time
that they snatched the guy hanging next to me
on the line and announced that they were an INS
warrant team. Of course, there was the typical,
"This is a raid! Stay where you are!" announced
with a bullhorn after they identified themselves
and snatched who they came after.
They got that guy next to me and another one
a little further down the line (both Hispanics),
cuffed them, and took them away. Then, we
were allowed to go out on the runway, where
we were watched by 6 or 8 more uniformed
officers for about 2 hours. They told us that
we could mill around and wouldn't be arrested,
they just wanted us segregated so that they
could arrest who they were after. They were
really nice to us. I struck up a pretty lively
conversation with one of them. He had a
laughing fit when I told him of my first thought
when I saw the guns on the "inspectors."
He was pretty low-ranking and couldn't tell me
much, but he did say that they did have quite
a few targets there, and he was complaining
about raiding chicken plants. He said that he
didn't understand how anybody could stand to
work in such a place.
All in all they loaded up a whole busload of
illegals in that raid. It put a real cramp in
Tyson's style for quite awhile there at Grannis.
We ran at 50% capacity for about 3 weeks.
You know the funny thing is, a lot of the people
that got hauled off were back in about 3 months
or so. But, all of them had different names.
And nobody seemed to find anything suspicious
about that except a few of us lineworkers.
Well, I read an article yesterday about
Tyson having an ammonia spill again.
Those that have been reading this blog
for awhile will remember that I talked
about that very thing not too long ago
happening at the Grannis plant. In fact,
it happened twice while I worked there.
What makes this even more scary is the
fact that they use ammonia and chlorine
at the same plant. The combination of
the two of these chemicals can be fatal
because of the fumes that are created
from the chemical reaction that takes
place when the two come in contact with
They had one worker injured with burns
on his body from the ammonia and went
to the hospital. The rest of the workers
evacuated, with some noticing others
heading out the fire doors and leaving the
building, so they followed them.
Of course, Tyson had no comment on
what may have caused it or how much
actually spilled. But, the article also goes
on to point out that:
Tyson's has been the site of a couple of
spills in recent years. The plant was evacuated
in July of last year after a chlorine tank behind
the main building started to leak. 500 employees
were sent home and two taken to the hospital
as a precaution.
Back in 1996, a mechanical failure at Tyson
released ammonia gas throughout the facility.
At that time, officials did not evacuate, saying
there was no danger to workers or the environment.
They did evacuate our plant the first time when
a line burst and discharged inside the plant, but
the second time, the leak was so bad that the
cops were stopping us on the road on the way
to work, either to detour around the plant or
to turn around and go home. In this case, they
also evacuated the entire town of Grannis, about
This leak happened during the transfer of the
ammonia from the transport truck to the holding
tank on top of the plant. Almost the whole load
was released into the air. I don't know for sure
what happened, but I was told that when they
went to disconnect the transport truck from the
holding tank, the valve on the holding tank would
not close, so everybody just ran.
I wonder if Tyson thought that this was a risk
to the environment. They probably had no
Both of these cases could have been prevented
with proper maintenance. It is not a case of the
maintenance people doing shoddy work, it is a
case of the company not ordering the parts they
need to stay on top of these situations. Most
of the accidents and mechanical failures have
been due to this very problem. Tyson just won't
spend the money to keep things maintained and
people get hurt. I don't know how many times
I have heard maintenance say that they couldn't
get the parts they needed to keep things up.
Bonuses are given out to those supervisors and
managers that keep expenses below the budget.
They get a percentage of whatever is left out of
their budget for the year. All the way up the line
this kind of behavior is encouraged by this system
because all bonuses have been gained by skimping
on something somewhere, usually a whole lot of
Tyson promotes production and profits over and
above everything else, including safety. This
should be quite obvious to anyone who has been
reading all this. They should be held accountable
and made to do the right thing. People are hurt
and killed every year by this kind of policy.
How much longer will we let them get away with it?
Today's post is somewhat of a departure
from my normal topics on this site. But,
I am so angry that I just have to say
something about this.
As most of you know, I am a combat
veteran of the Army. Anyone who has
ever been in the military will always have
a piece of it in them. It never really goes
away and there is a bond between veterans
that can't be understood by those who
have not had such experiences.
As may be evident from my email address
and list of blogs I read, I am still quite
interested in what happens with regard to
our armed forces.
I read an article about some other veterans
who I believe are being completely shafted
by this administration.
These 17 former prisoners of the former
Iraqi regime during the Gulf War went to
court and won a settlement from the Iraqi
government under a 1996 law allowing
people to bring lawsuits against foreign
governments designated as sponsors of
terrorism. The theory is that governments
would be less likely to sponsor terrorism
if they are held responsible for its effects.
Also, this decision in the victims' favor was
quite validating to those who suffered. They
are feeling betrayed by the administration's
unwillingness to hand over the money, and
there is a worry that other countries will see
this as not holding Iraq responsible for these
torturous actions, thereby spawning more.
These guys suffered tortures at the hands of
the Iraqi regime like:
...beatings, burnings, starvation, mock
executions and repeated threats of castration
Lt. Col. Dale Storr, whose Air Force A-10 fighter
jet was shot down by Iraqi fire in February 1991...
says his captors...beat him with clubs, broke his
nose, urinated on him and threatened to cut off
his fingers if he did not disclose military secrets.
David Eberly, a retired Air Force colonel whose
F-15 fighter was shot down over northwest Iraq
said his interrogators repeatedly pointed a gun at
his head and pulled the trigger on an empty chamber.
Here is the extremely offensive, not to mention
attempt by the administration
to explain their callous decision:
"No amount of money can truly compensate
these brave men and women for the suffering
that they went through at the hands of a truly
brutal regime. It was determined earlier this
year by Congress and the administration that
those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but
they were resources required for the urgent
national security needs of rebuilding Iraq."
Basically, their line of reasoning is that since no
amount of money can make this okay, they
might as well not get any. Well, I don't know
about you, but a good chunk of money would
make me feel at least a little bit better about
the torture that I suffered and help me feel
that my endurance of the horrid conditions
and patriotic duty were appreciated by my
country and my President.
The article goes on to also explain that:
President Bush had signed an executive order
in March, on the eve of the American invasion
of Iraq, that confiscated Iraqi assets and
converted them into assets of the United States
government. In May, after Mr. Hussein was
ousted, Mr. Bush issued a declaration that
effectively removed Iraq from a list of countries
liable for some court judgments involving past
rights abuses and links to terrorism.
In a sworn court filing in the case for the
former prisoners, L. Paul Bremer III, the
American administrator in Iraq, said the money
won by the former prisoners had already been
"completely obligated or expended" in
"These funds are critical to maintaining peace
and stability in Iraq," he said. "Restricting these
funds as a result of this litigation would affect
adversely the ability of the United States to
achieve security and stability in the region."
Is this administration trying to say that these
fine people would be unpatriotic to accept their
rightful judgment? Do they really think that the
American people are going to believe that giving
these people what is rightfully theirs is going to
adversely affect operations? Yeah, I can just see
ol' Sanchez saying, "Well, Mr. President, since I
don't have that money, we are going to lose this
war. We might as well pack up and go home."
Yeah, right. Every time I think that the current
administration can get no more cold and greedy,
they go and pull something like this.
By the way, did you know that Texas Governor
George W. Bush's largest-single campaign
contributer in 1992 was poultry magnate Bo
Pilgrim, who served as Bush's finance chairman
and stuffed more than $50,000 into Bush's
campaign fund? There is a whole article about
the huge amount of money and the power of
the industry I read here.
It was discussing how the big corporations are
getting bigger and richer while the guys lower
down the line are bearing the brunt of the work.
There are too many policies being made right
now to benefit large corporations at the expense
of everything else - the land, the air, the water,
the health of the citizens, as well as their ability
to earn a living wage. Wealth is being way too
concentrated and corporations are basically
running countries and dictating policy. Their
money decides who gets elected and their
financial control of media sources decides how
information will be relayed to the masses.
If only the masses would rise up and "vote"
with their dollars to reward only those companies
with responsible and fair business practices,
we could change the trend. These huge
corporations could not get that way if we did
not let them by giving them our money.
Shop responsibly. And support our veterans.
Let's take back our country. It is ours, after all.
I suppose my regular readers (thank
you for your continued support and
interest - you know who you are and
so do I) have noticed a change in the
blog lately. There have been a couple
of skipped days here and there and
there have been more posts that are
simply commentaries on articles I read.
I have found myself in the position of
having a hard time to figure out what
to write about lately. It's not that I
have run out of stories, but that I just
have a hard time pulling them all out of
my mind. I have mentioned this before.
Well, now, the problem has gotten worse.
The thing is, it could be that the stories
that have gone untold are even worse
than the ones already related here. This
is because there were a number of things
through the years that I chose to suppress
and "forget" because it was hard enough
to do the job as it was.
These stories come out when someone
says something or asks a question, or
sometimes if I see an article or something.
Then, it's like, "Oh, yeah, that reminds me..."
So, this is an open call for everyone to
please let me know what you want to know
more about. I have asked this before and
I received some really great questions and
remembered some really horrific experiences.
These experiences have been blocked by my
mind for a reason, but it is worth reliving
them in order to get the word out there.
I am willing to go through this, also in part,
because I think it may kind of purge some
of these things from the deep,dark recesses
of my mind, where they lurk.
I will be awaiting your responses to this post.
What else do you want to know about? Have
I forgotten anything, or does anything need
further clarification? This would be a good
time for me to work on this because I am
temporarily in between major projects, at
least for the next few days to a week.
In the meantime, I will do my best to keep
up a dialog and bring to your attention
those articles I think are pertinent to the
factory farming problem. Thank you all
for your continued support.
I always answer each and every email I
receive. They are all important to me.
I came across an article recently that I
have been thinking about. The more
I think about it, the more I have thought
that this issue should be brought to
everyone's attention. I knew the problem
was bad, but was unaware of the extent
of it. These corporate fat cats are getting
filthy rich in every way possible, just
dancing around the edges of what is
legal, never mind what is ethical and fair.
The example I am talking about can be
found here by Ethan C. Nobles at The
Morning News/NWAonline.net on Oct 5.
He just comes out with it right off the
bat and lets you know what the truth is:
The benefits of being an Arkansas business
executive often go beyond what's disclosed
in standard filings with the federal Securities
and Exchange Commission.
Take Springdale's Tyson Foods. Family
members of company founder John Tyson
and former executives receive compensation
from the company for "lease agreements" and
He then lists some of the perks for having
been so blessed at birth as to have the
Tyson name and legacy:
John Tyson, the founder's grandson, is currently
the chairman and chief executive officer of Tyson.
According to Tyson's proxy, prepared Jan. 2,
Tyson Family Aviation LLC received $2.04 million
in lease payments from the corporation. Also,
Tyson Foods paid $1.84 million leasing swine or
poultry facilities in which Tyson family members
had an interest last year.
Don Tyson, former senior chairman of the board,
received $3.52 million last year for the company's
use of a wastewater treatment facility near a Tyson
Foods processing plant in Nashville. Don Tyson, son
of the elder John Tyson, received another $2.03
million for the company's use of a wastewater
treatment facility in Springdale last year. The
wastewater facilities, according to the proxy, are
owned by the Tyson Limited Partnership and
"entities of which Don Tyson is a principal."
Don Tyson, additionally, signed a contract after
he retired as senior chairman on Oct. 19, 2001.
Under the terms of the agreement, Tyson is to
provide advisory services to the company and
receive $800,000 plus travel expenses and health
and life insurance benefits for a period of 10 years.
Even Jon Johnson, associate professor of
management at the University of Arkansas' Sam
M. Walton College of Business had to admit:
"It's kind of hard to say what's excessive
and what's not."
Mr. Johnson even goes on to make a few more
very interesting observations:
Johnson said such perks have drawn the attention
of investors over the past couple of years. He said
the failure of companies such as Houston's Enron
or Worldcom in Ashburn, Va., has investors taking
a hard look at corporate governance and how
money is spent.
Of course, as usual, Tyson has a wonderfully
vague solution to the problem - a committee.
They just "committee" all kinds of things.
Their typical way of handling things in these
"committees" is to talk the situation to death
and never really do anything. They handle
everything they can this way, everything
from workers' complaints to this kind of thing.
Here is their statement:
"We have had a committee of outside independent
members of our board of directors in place since
1996 to review transactions with our directors or
executive officers and make a determination as to
whether the transactions are fair to the company.
That committee is now known as the governance
But, of course. We can't forget the proper name.
The name of the committee is everything. It is
what actually implies that the company is doing
The same goes for the idea of this "committee"
being "independent." That just means that
they are not employees for Tyson, not that
they don't get paid by Tyson.
After everything else that I have presented
on this site, how far are you willing to trust
Tyson when they just basically say, "You'll
have to take our word for it."
I was glad to see an article that told of
Tyson finally being held accountable for
high ammonia levels. According to it:
A federal court in Kentucky ruled today
[11/7] that food giant Tyson is responsible
for pollution at factory farms. The Sierra
Club and local residents sued Tyson for
failing to report hazardous releases of
ammonia from four animal factories under
its supervision, located in Webster, McClean,
and Hopkins counties.
You see, they can't emit more than 100 lbs.
of ammonia every day without reporting it
to the federal government and the local
community emergency coordinator.
But, Tyson's defense was that they were
not responsible for all that pollution since
they didn't actually own the farms. They
were trying to shift all the blame on the
growers that they have working for them.
Luckily, the judge didn't buy that argument.
Federal Court Judge Joseph McKinley ruled
that Tyson is "clearly in a position of
responsibility and power with respect to each
facility . . .and has the capacity to prevent
and abate the alleged environmental damage."
I was really glad to see them be held
responsible for the damage they do. They
are always trying to blame everything on
someone else, especially the little guy. It's
funny how all these people can live in a
community for generations with very little
noticeable harm coming to the land, air, and
water and then suddenly, after Tyson comes
into the area and things go wrong, Tyson
says that it is all these people's septic tanks
and runoff from their farms and gardens, etc.
that is polluting, not them.
This is only different in the fact that it is
even worse than the above story because
these people are growing for Tyson and
certainly wouldn't have tens of thousands
of chickens in a building out in back of their
house for any other reason. To try to
wriggle their way out of owning up to the
fact that the growers buy the equipment
and do business in exactly the way Tyson
says they have to or they don't do business
at all was futile. Everyone knows this.
Apparently, the judge did, too.
It seems like every time I turn around,
Tyson is in the news about something
horrible they have done to someone.
The Tyson family is about as shady as
the Mafia is and about as ruthless.
It seems that some residents in this
retirement community had complained
to their homeowner's association about
these ducks leaving "smelly droppings"
around their places. So, the member of
the association in charge of handling the
situation hired a trapper to get rid of the
ducks. The problem is with the method
he chose to use to accomplish this.
Picture this: You live in this nice little
quiet community, enjoying your golden
years, feeding the ducks that live at the
nearby pond. You go outside one day
and see this guy, "darting between the
houses, shooting at the ducks with as
many as three to four arrows."
This is what one of the people said she
saw. Can you imagine how horrible this
To make it worse, according to the trapper,
Lakeland police officers had to stand by him
while he shot the waterfowl because residents
were cussing at him and threatening to hurt him.
Well, can you blame them? This is horrible!
I don't care what the excuse is, I wouldn't
let it go on in my back yard, either. I mean,
the guy is running around between houses,
letting arrows fly at these poor ducks, who
are no doubt running away from this maniac
as fast as their little feet could carry them.
This should be illegal. But, catch the rest
This guy defended his actions with these
extremely lame statements that show
how clueless he really is to how cruel and
barbaric his actions were:
"The problem wasn't the trap, it was the
people" feeding the ducks away from the
trap, he said.
In addition, when he couldn't catch some
of them, he left a crate so that residents
could catch the ducks themselves.
But that didn't work either, so he had no
choice but to shoot them with a bow and
arrow, he said.
Not enough for you? How about this other
justification for the dirty deed:
The man said he gave the ducks to needy
families who cannot afford to buy meat.
He insisted, "The ducks were legally disposed of."
Oh, well that changes everything. It just
makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. He
did it for those poor people needing food.
He was right about one thing, though. This
was apparently legal for him to do.
Gary Morse, a spokesman with the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,
said Muscovy ducks are not considered wildlife
and are not protected birds.
"These particular types of birds are domestic . . .
and are not regulated by the Fish and Wildlife
Commission," Morse said, adding that it is up
to local governments to regulate the trapping
of the waterfowl.
Isn't that convenient? Not their responsibility.
Apparently it is not Animal Services Director
Eddy DeCastro's either. According to him:
...the county has no regulations on trapping
"The county has only regulations pertaining to
dogs, cats and hybrid canines, such as hybrid
wolves or hybrid dogs," DeCastro said.
What's amazing to me is not just that there is
no law against doing something like this, but
that there would need to be. I mean, how many
of us would actually conceive of the idea of
running around shooting ducks with a bow
and arrow as being the best solution to a
problem, especially in a residential area. I mean,
if it took this guy 3 or 4 arrows in some cases
to kill these ducks, he is obviously not a very
good shot. How many arrows missed, flying
through the air where they could have hit a
person or someone's dog or something? One
of the complaints of the residents was that
they were not told this trapper was coming.
The other thing about this is that it would have
been infinitely easier to do this in a humane
manner. Anyone who has dealt with any kind
of fowl knows that at night, these birds will
go to roost. Ducks roost, either on the
ground, or in very shallow water. All you need
is a long-handled dip net and a flashlight
with a blue lens. Then all you have to do is
just walk up and scoop up the bird nicely and
put it in a cage for transport to a more suitable
location. I have helped catch ducks this way
before, so I know it works. It would have been,
not only more humane, but much easier.
Some people just don't stop to think about
what they are doing. This was a perfect
example of idiocy. This guy can't have been
much of a knowledgeable trapper. He had
no idea what he was doing. But, what is
even worse is that his mind would jump
to this solution so quickly. It never would
have occurred to me to do something like
that. He just misses the point of it being
cruel by pointing out that it was legal and
that the meat went to needy people, so it
wasn't wasted and therefore not wrong.
Can you imagine seeing a duck squawking
in pain with 3 or 4 arrows sticking out of it?
And cops are protecting this man so he can
do it! That's the part that really gets me.
Why didn't someone call an animal organization
to do this? I'm sure they would have caught
them and put them somewhere, probably
I blame the guy that hired the trapper just as
much for hiring this guy to do this. His hands
are just as bloody.
Well, we have finally seen the infamous
new KFC commercials that everyone is
making fun of and none of the advertising
people believe will work. They are every
bit as ridulous as we expected them to be.
Have you seen these stupid things yet?
It seems that the best justification for the
absolutely laughable claim that eating their
fried chicken is good for you is that it is,
"more healthy than a Burger King Whopper."
Oooooh. So is a candy bar, but it wouldn't
make for a very healthy dinner. What else
can we find that is better for you than a
Whopper, but still not good for you, either??
He was quoting a brand consultant about
their new tactic, who said, "It's so counter-
intuitive that it seems like a long shot to me.
We've all been trained to know that fried
foods are a bad idea."
He also points out that, "The quick of eye
will notice printed disclaimers in the ads
saying a balanced diet and exercise are
necessary for good health, fried chicken
'is not a low-fat, low-sodium, low-
Still, of all the articles we read about this
story, the funniest one we saw was the
one in the Sun Times by Lewis Lazare.
We loved some of his phrasing. Some of
his more choice observations were:
There's logic. Then there's KFC logic ...
logic would seem to dictate that FCB might
have opted to steer clear of actually trying
to position KFC as a health food...The logic
applied in both commercials collapses almost
He also makes the points that their campaign:
is long on data and painfully short on creative
inspiration...the commercials left us with the
distinct impression that FCB was clutching at
some slender straws indeed to make the best
case possible for fried chicken's health benefits.
What do you think? I think this won't fly with
people, either. Everybody has been brought
up knowing that fried food is bad for you.
There have been many studies to prove it. Do
they actually think America is that stupid?
I have been noticing a disturbing trend
lately in the factory farming industry. It
seems like every time I turn around, there
are more problems being reported,
especially with regard to disease and
contamination by feces (which is basically
the same thing, I guess). I'm not too
happy with the idea of cloning animals
either. There are too many unknowns
associated with that, as has been proved
many times over.
These two aspects illustrate a growing
trend in the industry to put profits over
public safety. Let me just give you some
highlights of things that have come through
my inbox in just the last month alone. I
have saved the complete articles if anyone
is interested in where I got this information,
but it would make this post too long if I
were to cite them all after each item.
At one of the largest slaughterplants in the
country, feces has continually been found
on the bodies of slaughtered cattle even
after they've passed through washes of hot
water and acid. Although inspectors reported
this, regulators did not stop meat from being
shipped from Shapiro Packing for human
consumption. Even when potentially fatal E.
coli O157:H7 bacteria was found, the plant
was not shut down.
An entire herd of 330 cattle was culled as a
precautionary measure in Scotland after a
significant number of the animals tested
positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Turkeys at two Dutch farms were diagnosed
with parasite-borne blackhead, but that the
government was not very concerned because
about 10 cases of the disease are reported
each year. If left untreated, the blackhead
disease may be fatal but the only drug used
to cure it has been banned because it may also
Human and equine West Nile virus infections
occurred in France in August and September.
In August 2003, an infected purebred beef
herd was detected with TB and depopulated
in Zavala County, TX.
Italy has reported two more cases of mad cow
disease, bringing the country's total to 113.
Fifty positive cases were reported in 2001, 36
in 2002, and 27 so far this year.
More than half of the slaughterhouses in Canada
have "major" deficiencies that could compromise
the safety of their meat products, according to
internal inspection reports obtained by the
Vancouver Sun. In response, the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency provided reports for 106
slaughterhouses, most written in May or June of
this year. Of those reports, 61 (57.5 %) list at
least one "major deviation" from regulations --
everything from the mistreatment of animals to
fecal matter on carcasses. Another 39 (36.8 %)
listed minor deviations. Only six (5.7 %) had no
deviations at all. I have a list of things they found
that ranges from "carcasses stored on the floor"
to "mould present on knife storage containers" to
"fecal material on carcass in cooler".
The 2003 North Carolina Poultry Health Meeting will
be held Nov. 7. Topics for the meeting include:
cataracts in chickens, Arizona's salmonella reduction
program, excessive mortality in young broilers,
occurrence of protozoas in turkeys, North Carolina
Department of Agriculture's exotic Newcastle project,
international issues in poultry and unsolved feather
loss in broiler breeders.
About 31,000 farmers and 4,000 feedlots from
across the country sued IBP Inc., saying the
company conspired to fix prices paid on the open
market. According to the plaintiffs, Dakota Dunes-
based Tyson Fresh Meats, formerly IBP, violated
the federal Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 by
"using unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive
practices or devices; manipulating or controlling
prices; creating a monopoly in cattle acquisition;
or restraining commerce in cattle." Complaints
cover a period from 1994-2002.
Jamaican and Caribbean poultry farmers are
bracing for a potentially devastating attack on
their $305-million industry by a deadly combination
of the Avian Influenza (AI) and Newcastle diseases
which have wiped out commercial flocks in large
parts of the United States, Italy and Chile. The
diseases have reportedly been savaging commercial
flocks in California, Virginia and, to a lesser extent,
in Nevada and Arizona in the US, and have also
wreaked havoc in Italy and Chile.
Only about 1/10 male turkeys are physically capable
of impregnating females through natural means, so
turkeys are now the only poultry that reproduce
mainly through artificial insemination, the same way
as cows and pigs. It seems that their breasts have
been genetically modified to the point that they
are too big to be able to perform the act. The only
reason farmers keep a group of stud turkeys
around is that their semen doesn't freeze well.
They have to gather the semen 2 to 3 times a week
from them. I don't even want to think about how.
What about all this injecting meat with water and
saline and all? Quite a few people don't know that
most of what they are buying in the store has
been "pumped" so that they are paying for water.
The water content can run 8%-10%, with some
marinated meats going as high as 30%. This not
only ups the chance that the meat has been
contaminated, but you are paying for meat and
getting water, plus there is added sodium that is
a problem for people with high blood pressure.
And, of course, you have seen the fact that we
have Missouri and Oklahoma both suing over
pollution of rivers from factory farming. I have
already written about that.
Keep in mind that this is just a sampling of
what I have seen come around this month.
And I'm sure I didn't catch everything. I read
stories every day about problems at one place
I have read about two communities that have
been fighting the big factory farms coming
into their areas just in the last week or so. I
am sure they are not the only ones, either.
The really alarming thing about this is that,
even as the number of problems, farms, and
plants are increasing, the number of regulations
is getting more and more lax. Every attempt
to regulate the industry is met with such stiff
resistance and screams from the industry of
how it will drive them into bankruptcy if they
have to pay for all this, that nothing much
happens. I have been watching their latest
upset over the country-of-origin labeling law
(COOL) that has been passed.
It is quite obvious that the industry is uncaring
about the animals, uncaring about food safety,
and uncaring about their workers. From all the
different pieces of evidence that I have gathered
since I started my little campaign against Tyson,
I have come to recognize the sheer amount of
corporate greed that exists in the industry.
I never really noticed before. I went about my
business like any other person, going to work
every day, going to the store and buying the
normal food, and being generally unaware of
the scope of the situation. It is amazing how
much shows up when you sign up for the right
newsletters and install a little program to watch
for things like this coming through the news.
I have really been astonished to find the amount
of things they get away with. And the public
says nothing unless it is happening in front of
their noses. They just go blindly along, as I did,
trusting that what they put in their cart won't
make them or their kids sick. They trust that
the animal welfare policies take care of potential
cruelty problems, and they trust that the EPA
will make sure they don't pollute the environment.
Well, I have come to found out that I was very
blind to many situations before, as are probably
most people. I highly doubt that many people
are lined out like I am to stay on top of these
type of reports. What I have come across since
all this started has just really raised my awareness
of how bad and out of hand we have let this
Enough is enough. It is time for a complete
overhaul. It seems to me they have proved that
they cannot be trusted to conduct their business
in a proper manner, so it is time to make sure
they do. It is for our own protection. The safety
of the public food and water supply is the most
important public safety issue.
What more is it going to take before people start
really making a stink? Why is it that the only
people you hear demanding something be done
about this are animal rights activists and environ-
mentalists? Where is the general public? Don't
they care? Or do they still believe the lies of the
industry? From what I have seen, it is mostly
the case of the latter. I guess until something
happens to impact them personally or they start
to wake up and listen to those fighting for them
us activists will have to keep on fighting the fight.
That's okay. I was in the military. I don't mind
fighting for what I believe to be right for my
country and its citizens. I consider this fight to
be no different from that. And I am not alone.
Well, we finally watched PETA's "Meet
Your Meat" video over the weekend. I
have been asked by quite a few people
about this video and whether it was an
accurate representation of what I have
seen and experienced. With my slow
dial-up connection out here in the boonies
I could not view it online. I get audio,
but no video on these PETA TV things,
so I contacted one of the people I have
done some work with and, of course, he
was happy to send me a copy.
I had heard about what was on the tape
and figured it was probably representative,
in fact probably rather tame, compared to
what I have seen. Well, my viewing bore
out that assumption. What I saw on that
video is considered to be "standard industry
practice." Therefore, it was tame compared
to some of the atrocities I have recounted
here on this site.
They didn't show things like the one-leggers
being ripped from the line, the "little games"
that go on during down-time, and it didn't show stuff like what a chicken house looks
like after a power outage in the summer. It
didn't show the animals frozen to the side
of the cages being peeled off, although it
did mention that this happens. There are a
lot of things it didn't show.
But then, maybe that was the point. I think
what they were trying to accomplish was to
simply show what "standard industry practice"
allows every day. They did do a very good
job of that. I also think that the narration by
Alec Baldwin was right on the money. He did
an excellent job of portraying the true situation.
It would be rather hard to get good footage of
what really goes on night after night unless the
investigator was willing and able to be there
night after night, putting it together. What I
have seen surfing the different sites, looking to
see which group has done what, the main thing
that I have noticed is that mostly what they get
are small snippets of time. In and out with what-
ever they got in one shot in a very brief amount of
time. It's not like the industry is actually going
to let someone stand there for days, weeks, or
months to get a lot of footage. Not to mention
the fact of the obvious distress the person
documenting the cruelty would be in to be
subjected to helplessly standing by and watching
it go on, given the nature of the person most
likely to care enough about the issue to subject
themselves to the situation. I mean, you would
have to care an awful lot to be able to do this.
The fact that they were able to show such
graphic footage in the time frame involved says
much in and of itself. These people were in there
for a relatively short amount of time. That proves
that cruelty is common enough that no matter when
you were to take a tour of such a place, especially
if no one knew you were filming them, you would be
able to document the cruelty going on.
I mean, I know (and those that have been reading
me from the beginning know) that this type of
thing happens day and night, every day and
every night, to billions of sentient beings every
year. The fact of the matter is that anyone that
eats fast food meat or buys meat in a grocery
store is supporting this type of cruelty. That is
an inescapable fact. This does go on, and this
video brings you face to face with that reality.
I highly recommend this video to anyone who
wants to know what the true situation is like.
There are many people in the industry that
would watch that video and see nothing wrong
with the situation because they freely admit
that there is an accepted percentage of animals
who will not be handled properly. They just
don't like to bring that fact to everyone's
attention. It is not what the average person
wants to be contemplating when taking a bite
of their dinner, and it sure doesn't increase
sales or make for good PR for the company.
Most of the higher-ups that I dealt with don't
see humane treatment as an issue. That is
the problem. That is where we have to make
our effects felt most - by forcing the industry
to put people in those positions who will see
humane treatment as an issue.
If you can watch this video and still manage
to want to consume meat, there are some
organizations trying to promote alternatives
to factory farming. I have not seen it yet
because it is being launched after today, but
I have seen a notice of a new site being set
up as a "free national online guide to all meat
raised with sustainable methods."
Even though I no longer wish to eat meat, I
do realize that there are plenty of people who
are not yet ready to make this commitment.
If you are one of these people, yet you do
care about trying to at least lessen the amount
of inevitable suffering that is inherent in the
raising and killing of another living creature,
this does provide you a choice.
That said, this is at least a step in the right
direction, so I have decided to bring this site
to everyone's attention. It is called the Eat
Well Guide and "will provide a locally-searchable
online directory of producers, grocery stores,
restaurants, and mail-order outlets throughout
the country that offer healthy meat raised
sustainably, without antibiotics and other growth
promoters, as well as certified organic. Consumers
can enter their zip code and find sustainable meat
products close to where they live," according to
their announcement. It can be found after today
Last night we (Laura and I) started
talking about how horrible the slaughter
plant was. She asked me what I thought
the first time I went in and saw the place
and what I had to do to work in that job.
Did I think it was horrible?
When I went to work at the plant I was
in debone. That is where most people
start, unless you come down there with
some kind of experience or training to do
something else. I worked on that part of
the line for about 7 weeks. It was cold, but
not really too bad of a place.
The work was fast and we did it all by knife
in the old way. There was a big chance of
being cut by someone else because of the
crowding on the line. One night I got mad
because somebody kept stepping on my feet.
I pushed them off of my feet and screamed
at them a few times and the supervisor
decided to send me to back dock to "tone
When I got back there, it was the shock of
my life. I had caught chickens, but I was not
prepared for what I saw. When I first walked
in the door I saw one bird that someone had
pulled the head off of that was flopping
around at my feet. That was the first thing I
saw when I walked in the door. Yes, I was
indeed horrified. I backed up to get away from
it, but I couldn't go very far because there was
nowhere to go. I got far enough back that it
couldn't sling it in my face, though.
They guy that was showing me around (the
utility) chuckled and told me to "get used to
it. That one was just a runt, anyway." I
thought that this guy was the hardest guy
I had ever seen. I thought that he was hard
I decided I would have to approach this
situation the same way that I handled my
work in the military. Decide what I was doing
was benefiting people in the end. After all,
at the time, I ate chicken and I realized that
if people eat it that someone has to kill them.
I figured I could handle it if I had to. My time
in the military taught me that I could handle
just about anything if I had to.
But, I had never really comprehended they run
through there a night. It was shocking the
high amount of killing that went on every
night just at that one little plant.
As time wore on, I realized that I wasn't going to get used to it. Just doing what was
necessary to get the job done was bad
enough. That was horrendous in itself. I
absolutely could not bring myself to join in
on the rest of the stuff--the little "games"
I have talked about. And I couldn't stand
to watch someone else do it.
Being a new guy, I didn't want to show any
weakness to the experienced hangers back
there, so I just sucked it up for a long time.
Whenever I would see them doing something
like that, I would just turn around and walk off.
It didn't take long before I quit eating chicken
after I went to work there. For a long time I
felt more justified in what I was doing because
I had to have a job, but by not buying the
chicken, I felt I wasn't supporting the company.
That was my first form of protest, albeit a
silent one, known only to myself. I just quit
eating the chicken and said nothing.
Of course, you all know that it just built up
from there. I got louder in my defense of the
chickens the longer I was there and more
outspoken about the working conditions,
which (of course) cost me my job. That was
the biggest favor Tyson ever did me--firing me.
Now I have plenty of time on my hands to
continue to speak up about the horrendous
conditions down there. And I wll.