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Originally published December 23 2014

'Humanely raised' chickens suffer torturous existance, "The consumer is being hoodwinked'

by C.L. Doherty

(NaturalNews) Jim Perdue, the self-proclaimed "head cheerleader" for Perdue Farms, proclaims, in a video produced by his company, that he and his company always want to "do the right thing." It's such a catchy phrase to listen to while watching Perdue drive his pick-up truck down a highway, yellow ball cap perched on his head, trying to look like any other chicken farmer. But, he's not. Jim Perdue is the leader of family-owned Perdue Farms, Inc., which is the parent company of Perdue Foods and Perdue AgriBusiness.

"Doing the right thing," according to the Perdue Farms website's Corporate Responsibility section, is as follows:

[O]ur ability to contribute positively to others is dependent upon the resources we can generate through our business; our Value of Stewardship encompasses fiscal responsibility and the responsibility to generate revenue to support the strategic growth of our company, sustaining us into the future.

In their own words, for Perdue Farms, "doing the right thing" begins and ends at the profit and loss statement, with a heavy emphasis on profit. Additionally, the "Corporate Responsibility Platform" page offers the only insight into the relationship that they have with their business partners:

We believe in responsibly contributing to the economic stability of our company and our business partners.

Once again, in their own words, the primary core belief, seemingly the only core belief, of Perdue Farms, Inc., is to make a profit.

Craig Watts is also in business to make a profit. According to a recent Washington Post article, he has been raising chickens for Perdue Farms for 22 years. Watts raised chickens to Perdue Farms standards for quite a while before he decided to allow Compassion for World Farming, an animal welfare group, to bring cameras into his operation.

In the video, Watts was asked why he was open to letting Leah Garces, the director of Comapssion for World Farming, into the operation. "I'm open to anything because this stuff is not as advertised," he said while gesturing in the general direction of his operation. "There's a lot of flaws in the system; the consumer is being hoodwinked; the farmer is being jerked around," he added. The video paints an ugly picture of a Perdue Foods-approved operation.

Perdue Food's response? "It is clear from the video that he is not following our guidelines and has been negligent in the care of his flock," the company said in a statement. "We send a team of poultry welfare experts to visit his farm and assess the condition of his current flock, and will take whatever steps are needed to assure their well-being." Clearly, Perdue Farms believes that Mr. Watts is not "doing the right thing."

Leah Garces disagrees with Perdue's assessment. She is quoted in the Post article. "Craig [Watts] and I did an analysis of how he is following those guidelines, and he is following them to the letter," she said. "He has been following their standards for 22 years. He has even been a top rated producer in Perdue's own tournament system--in all of the flocks we filmed he was a top producer." If the chickens shown in the video are being raised using strict adherence to the company guidelines, then it is clearly Perdue who is not "doing the right thing."

Besides the issue of raising chickens in this manner, there is also the deception, seemingly in cahoots with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), of the labels that Perdue uses on its packaging. "Humanely raised" and "raised cage free" are not USDA-approved terms but rather based on the National Chicken Council's animal welfare guidelines. Since Perdue isn't using USDA-approved labeling, they don't have to meet the criteria, and USDA inspectors are paid to verify that they are meeting the company's guidelines. It's a creative way to "do the right thing."

Two class action law suits, one in Florida and the other in New Jersey, both involving Perdue's "humanely raised" label on packages of Harvestland chicken, were settled in October 2014, according to Bloomberg Businessweek:

The settlement requires the plaintiffs to dismiss their claims with prejudice, in exchange for Perdue agreeing to remove the 'Humanely Raised' label claim from its Harvestland chicken packaging. The proposed class action cases were filed in 2010 and 2013 by individual consumers who contended that Perdue's 'Humanely Raised' claim on the packaging of its Harvestland brand chicken was misleading.

Even when consumers tell Perdue Farms, Inc., that they're doing wrong, Perdue closes ranks, protects profits and, in their world at least, continues to "do the right thing."


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