Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing animal cruenty and promoting vegetarian eating, has released a video that it claims was recorded at a Bell & Evans hatchery in Fredericksburg, Pa. In the video, baby chicks are dropped on conveyor belts and thrown about by machinery before being sent to farms, said Erica Meier, director of Compassion Over Killing. Sick or injured live chicks are seen being dumped into a grinder.

A Bell & Evans spokesman said that the company has not verified that the video was shot at its facility, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Tom Stone, director of sales and marketing for Bell & Evans, said Monday that the video was under review but said he would decline to comment further until more facts were known.

"We've always been very proud of what we do here," Stone said. "We're proud of the way we treat animals."

Meier said that the video was taken because of Bell & Evans’ claims of humane treatment. The company is one of the few poultry processors in the country that uses carbon dioxide gas to render the birds unconscious prior to slaughter. The company’s website also states that baby chicks are "carefully sorted from their shells, and placed in protective delivery baskets headed for the farm."

Meier said that there are no violations of cruelty laws in the video, but she saw the video as a consumer protection issue.

"Consumers who are looking for cruelty-free meat need to know about this," Meier said. "Anyone concerned with their meat being cruelty-free should recognize that animal cruelty is standard practice in this industry.

"Raising animals for food humanely is a challenge," she said. "Bell & Evans have gone further than many other companies to reduce suffering in some places. But people who are truly looking for cruelty-free meat need to realize that these practices are taking place behind closed doors for a reason."

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer