Animal rights group accuses Minnesota's Jennie-O and Butterfield of mistreating birds

Animal Welfare Institute asks local county attorneys to prosecute firms where turkeys and chickens died in trucks.


By Kristen Leigh Painter, Star Tribune (MN)

October 9, 2021


An animal rights group is asking local county attorneys to press charges against two Minnesota companies after thousands of broiler chickens and hundreds of turkeys died from apparent excessive heat exposure at their slaughterhouses this summer.


The allegations levied by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) against Jennie-O Turkey and Butterfield Foods stem from observations filed by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors at the processing plants.


Last month, Washington, D.C.-based AWI sent letters to Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall and Watonwan County Attorney Stephen Lindee asking them to press charges against the meat processors under a Minnesota law that prohibits depriving any animal of necessary food, water or shelter, or keep them enclosed without a change of air.


Unlike cattle and hogs that are protected under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors do not monitor and enforce animal welfare issues at poultry slaughterhouses, except for instances when that treatment could affect food quality and safety such as severe bruising.


But USDA inspectors often file...