An investigator for an animal rights group captured video of chickens being kicked, stomped and thrown against a wall by workers at a supplier for Kentucky Fried Chicken (search).
The footage, released online Tuesday, was secretly taken at the Pilgrim's Pride (search) plant in Moorefield, W.Va., by an investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (search) who worked there from October to May.
PETA said its investigator also obtained eyewitness testimony about employees "ripping birds' beaks off, spray-painting their faces, twisting their heads off, spitting tobacco into their mouths and eyes, and breaking them in half — all while the birds are still alive."
Pilgrim's Pride spokesman Ray Atkinson said the company is appalled by what it saw on the video, has reopened a previous investigation into complaints of chicken mistreatment and will fire any employees who are found to have violated company policies on animal welfare.
"These actions are completely contrary to all of our company's practices and policies regarding the humane treatment of poultry," Atkinson said.
KFC spokeswoman Bonnie Warschauer said in a statement that KFC told Pilgrim's Pride it will buy no more chickens from its Moorefield plant unless the supplier provides assurances that the abuses are no longer taking place.
KFC also said it has hired an inspector trained in animal welfare investigations whose job will be to prevent similar abuses at the plant.
PETA has been pressuring KFC since last year, when it sued the company and called for a boycott, demanding that KFC require suppliers to treat animals more humanely. The group has recently won similar concessions from other major fast-food chains, including McDonald's and Burger King.
PETA said it wants West Virginia authorities to prosecute plant employees and managers under state animal-cruelty laws. The animal rights group filed a complaint with Hardy County Prosecutor Lucas See in Moorefield, who did not immediately return a call Tuesday.