Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Following McDonald’s lead, Target Corp. has now refused to use eggs from Sparboe Farms, where undercover cameras recorded unsanitary conditions and employees harming the chickens.
When Mercy for Animals (MFA) went undercover at Sparboe Farms locations in Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado, it had one goal in mind: expose the conditions inside factory farms and their cages.
“Battery cage production, in our opinion, is the cruelest method of egg production in the United States,” said Daniel Hauff, of MFA.
Video taken inside the farms shows hens barely able to move in cramped quarters and workers mistreating the animals. MFA claims those conditions stem from cage living.
“We encourage them to take a step in the right direction and un-cage these hens,” Hauff said.
On Saturday, MFA sent letters to both companies asking them to only buy cage-free eggs. MFA believes large companies can make change happen.
“Fourteen years ago, McDonald’s flexed its muscle and changed the beef industry by implementing some policies that said, ‘We’re not going to allow suppliers to do the worse abuses’,” Hauff said. “That’s all we’re asking them to do now.”
Sparboe had little to say about McDonald’s and Target’s decision to stop buying their eggs.
“Those eggs will be sold to other customers,” said Beth Sparboe Schnell, president of Sparboe Farms.
In a press conference Sparboe Schnell said their focus has been on the investigation and addressing areas of improvement within the company.
“All of us at Sparboe Farms were shocked and deeply disturbed showing animal mistreatment,” Sparboe Schnell said.
Sparboe has fired four employees. The company plans to retrain workers, expand its food safety and animal welfare staff, and form a sustainability task force.
In addition to the undercover investigation, the FDA also sent a warning letter to Sparboe citing 13 violations.
The company said it’s addressing those issues and that all its eggs are safe to eat.