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Pilgrim's Pride today terminated 11 employees, including one superintendent, one supervisor, one foreman, and eight hourly employees as a result of its continuing investigation into the violation of its animal welfare policies at the company's Moorefield, West Virginia, plant. All of the individuals terminated for cause earlier today were employed at the Moorefield facility.
"While we are making considerable progress with our investigation, we will continue with this investigation until we're confident that every employee—regardless of rank—who had knowledge of these incidents has been held accountable for their actions," said O. B. Goolsby, president and chief operating officer of Pilgrim's Pride. He also reported that Pilgrim's Pride had placed quality assurance monitors on both shifts at the Moorefield facility to continuously audit handling practices and processing in connection with its ongoing investigation.
"We're disappointed that the individual who surreptitiously videotaped the abuses did not report them to us when they occurred so we could have taken immediate action at that time," Goolsby said. "Had he reported the incidents to plant management and to the employee hotline, as he had been instructed during the company's animal welfare training he received on September 3, 2003, corrective and disciplinary actions would have been taken many months ago, and chickens would have been spared from suffering the types of abuses shown in the video."
Based on media reports of the existence of additional video footage, Pilgrim's Pride has initiated a request that all available videotape be immediately provided to the company for use in its investigation to determine whether any additional employees may have participated in or failed to report any improper practices, in direct violation of the company's animal welfare policies.
In addition, the company announced that Dr. Temple Grandin, one of the world's foremost experts in the field of animal welfare, will review its animal welfare practices at its Moorefield plant later this month.