Whole Foods Market wants to make sure that its customers do not buy any animals that might have been victims of animal cruelty. To ensure this the food retailer is cutting all ties to Cal-Cruz Hatchery, a chick hatchery that has been accused of animal abuse.
On January 11, Compassion Over Killing (COK), represented by the Animal League Defense Fund, filed a complaint against Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc. in the California Superior Court in Santa Cruz seeking to stop alleged animal abuse amounting to felony animal cruelty under California law.
Beth Krauss, spokeswoman for Whole Foods, the largest U.S. natural food store already “had about five degrees of seperation” from Cal-Cruz, according to the Huffington Post. The store buys chickens from distributors that rely on ranches to raise the hatchlings. Krauss claimed that, “Moving forward, we will not be working with any ranches that receive chicks from Cal-Cruz.”
It would go against company policy for the store to receive chickens from a hatchery that was accused of animal cruelty. However, Whole Foods did not make the decision to stop receiving the chickens. According to HuffPo, “the decision to sever ties with Cal-Cruz was made by individual farmers” and that Krauss, “couldn’t say if the moves were related to the abuse allegations.”
The lawsuit against Cal-Cruz alleges that COK’s undercover investigation uncovered such abuses as dead hatchlings and mutilated hatchlings trapped in and under processing machinery, hatchlings with exposed organs, ripped or missing skin, and severely injured feet being left in bins for several hours, the cruel act of throwing hatchlings into buckets of liquid waste to drown, and hatchlings being tossed into bins and forced down clogged disposal chutes with a pole and a hose.
Cheryl Leahy, general counsel of Compassion Over Killing said of the lawsuit, “These mistreated and abused baby birds deserve justice. It’s time that their suffering be recognized under the law and permanently stopped.”
Whether Whole Foods decision to stop getting chickens from Cal-Cruz was due to the allegations of abuse or for some other reason, it is probably in the store’s best interest.
It will take at least eight weeks before Whole Foods will stop receiving chickens born at Cal-Cruz, enough time for the supermarket to start working with Pittman Farms, who will be opening its own hatchery.