Organic Consumers Association

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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Prozac, Arsenic and Beer in Your Turkey? 9 Creepy Things to Know about Your Holiday Meal

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

With Thanksgiving days away, U.S. turkey growers are probably relieved that no arsenic, salmonella or cruelty stories have yet surfaced like they have in other years. But that doesn't mean the turkey on your holiday table is exactly wholesome. In fact, the chemicals, food additives and extreme production methods used to deliver the nation's plump, affordable turkeys just in time for Thanksgiving are enough to make you lose your appetite.

1. Extreme Cruelty To Animals

If you think of Butterball as a trusted name that operates a help line for Thanksgiving Day cooks, then the turkey giant has succeeded at its PR job. Less than a year ago, workers at Butterball turkey operations in North Carolina were videotaped kicking and stomping birds, dragging them by their wings and necks and slamming them into tiny transport crates. It was a year after Butterball workers were charged with criminal cruelty for the same actions!

Butterball is  "taking steps to help ensure that all new and existing associates have a clear understanding of our animal well-being policies," Butterball CEO Rod Brenneman claimed after the first offenses. Maybe employees don't know they aren't supposed to kick, drag and bash birds. After the second offenses, Butterball launched a audacious radio campaign about its convenient holiday help line with no mention of the criminal abuse. Twenty percent of U.S. turkeys on the Thanksgiving table come from Butterball, but it is hardly the only abuser. Shocking cruelty has also been documented at Aviagen Turkeys in West Virginia and House of Raeford in North Carolina.   

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