Local grocery chains Lunds and Byerly's and Bentonville, Arkansas-based Sam's Club have reportedly joined the list of retailers that have discontinued their relationships with Litchfield-based Sparboe Farms as an egg supplier after the farm was the subject of a video about animal abuse.
Animal rights group Mercy for Animals on Saturday said that both Target Corporation and McDonald's had dropped the supplier after the release of the video, which it says features "hens crammed in cages so small they can't fully stretch their wings, dead birds left to rot in cages with hens still laying eggs for human consumption, and workers throwing hens, breaking their necks, and burning off their beaks without painkillers." (A portion of the video is available on the Star Tribune's Web site here.)
The Star Tribune on Monday reported on Lund's decision to cut ties with the company; KARE-11 reported Tuesday on Sam's Club's announcement.
Sparboe Farms responded to the video on Saturday with a news release, stating that the company is forming a "sustainability task force" to review all company practices in the areas of food safety, animal care, and sustainability-and said that it will "develop additional best practices in those areas for all of the company's production and processing facilities."
President and owner Beth Sparboe Schnell said that "there is absolutely no food safety concern or any recall of any Sparboe Farms products. Sparboe Farms eggs and egg products are safe to eat."
"All of us at Sparboe Farms were shocked and deeply disturbed when we saw the video shot in our barns that depicted animal mistreatment," Schnell said in a statement. "At Sparboe Farms, we expect our employees to provide the best care possible and follow our animal care code of conduct."
The company said that it identified four employees who were "complicit in the disturbing activity, including at least one animal activist," and those employees have been terminated.
According to Sparboe Farms' Web site, the company is the fifth-largest shell egg producer and marketer in the United States.
To learn more about Lunds' decision to pull Sparboe Farms eggs from its stores, read this Star Tribune report. Read more about Sam's Club's decision from KARE-11.