Avara Foods denies ‘deformed’ turkey claims

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Turkey as seen in Surge's video (left) compared with the healthy looking birds in Avara's video (right)
Turkey as seen in Surge's video (left) compared with the healthy looking birds in Avara's video (right)
Meat and poultry processor Avara Foods has denied claims that “horrifically deformed” turkeys were found at one of its sites in Lincolnshire.

The producer’s comments came after animal rights group Surge published undercover footage (see below) filmed at the Faccenda turkey farm in Sudbrooke, which showed birds suffering from multiple health issues. These included turkeys unable to walk properly, missing feathers and attacking each other.

Surge said undercover investigators discovered turkeys “suffering horrifically” ​and were shown to be “severely lame and in terrible pain”.

“This is the bleak reality of what life is like for farmed animals in the UK, a country that preaches to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world,”​ said Surge.

‘Never able to safeguard these animals’

“What this proves is that welfare regulations will never be able to safeguard these animals and as long as there is demand, there will be exploitation.”

While Avara admitted that a small number of turkeys visible in the video were suffering from some health issues, it argued the footage had been edited to make the number of birds affected seem larger than it actually was.

It also claimed that despite the undercover video being widely reported this close to Christmas, it had originally been shot earlier this year.

A company spokesman told Food Manufacture: ​“As soon as we first saw this film, in March this year, we immediately took action. We identified the farm involved and requested three independent audits, as well as increasing the number of visits by our own team. 

No concerns raised by audits

“None of these audits reported concerns about the health of the birds on site, or the environment they were living in. However, we are not complacent and remain vigilant. We will continue to monitor and always encourage anyone with concerns to contact us so that we continue to meet the highest standards.”

Avara provided video (see below) of the same site featured in Surge’s exposé that had been filmed after it had seen the activist group’s, according to the company.

“As you can see from our unedited video of 16 April 2018, our turkeys are typically healthy, active and display the natural, inquisitive behaviour that you would expect,”​ the spokesman added.

“We accept the undercover footage shows turkeys that are having difficulty walking and that we should have identified and removed these birds sooner.  We remain concerned about the practice of breaking into farms and disturbing birds with bright lights while they are sleeping.”

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