Koch Foods on Wednesday responded in a press release to  the “Mercy for Animals’” inaccurate and out-of-context depictions of its chicken processing plant based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Mercy for Animals video targeted Chick-Fil-A and Koch Foods and is narrated by Sam Simon, the co-creator of “The Simpsons.” 

“The chicken processing business is a highly regulated industry with well-established industry processing procedures, and our company works hard every day to ensure our employees and contractors follow strict regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and guidelines from the National Chicken Council,” said Joe Grendys, CEO of Koch Foods.

The processing procedures and guidelines are designed to ensure the chickens are processed in a humane manner. Sixteen USDA inspectors work on each production shift at the Chattanooga facility to help ensure the company produces a safe product in accordance with government regulations.

Koch Foods has operated in the poultry business for more than 25 years, and its processing plant in Chattanooga has operated for more than 15 years. Koch Foods has not provided chicken to Chick-Fil-A since April 2013.

Koch Foods trains its processing employees on animal welfare practices and the importance of operating in a precise manner. It also requires its independent contractor chicken catchers to adhere to the Animal Welfare Guidelines of the National Chicken Council. These independent contract catchers must complete training on compliance with animal welfare guidelines, and they are regularly monitored for adherence to the guidelines.

Koch Foods is also regularly audited on its animal welfare practices by an independent auditor. The Chattanooga facility last completed such an audit in September of this year. The auditor found no violations of animal welfare practices in the live or processing operations for the Chattanooga complex.

“As the CEO of the company, I take these allegations very seriously as I should. The company will not stand for a violation of the important processes and standards that we have in place. Koch Foods will remain vigilant to ensure it continues to operate in a humane, clean, and safe manner,” Grendys said.

“Chicken farmers and processors recognize that they have an ethical obligation to make sure that the animals on their farms and at their plants are well cared for,” said Tom Super, vice president of communications, Naitonal Chicken Council.

“In order to assist them, the National Chicken Council has a set of Animal Welfare Guidelines – with the 2014 update being the most comprehensive to date – that offer the most up-to-date, science-based recommendations for the proper treatment and humane care of broilers, from hatch to harvest.  The guidelines are periodically updated with assistance from an academic advisory panel consisting of poultry welfare experts and veterinarians from across the United States.   Members then use these guidelines as a basis for their own animal welfare programs, but may also use additional standards set by the company or their customers.  Broiler companies undergo internal animal welfare audits, audits by independent third parties, USDA and/or by their customers on a regular basis,” Tom Super said.

 “Animal welfare expert Temple Grandin reviewed the footage in this particular video and said there was ‘no overt animal abuse’ at the plant.”

“On the farm, our guidelines state that birds must never be lifted, carried, or drug by the wing or neck and birds must never be thrown.  NCC and our member companies do not condone, and in fact, denounce, any practices that are not in accord with chicken industry guidelines and best practices,” Super said.