A former Hillandale Farms employee -- whom the company did not know was an undercover animal rights activist -- has distributed a video depicting what Hillandale views to be unacceptable animal welfare practices at a company farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The company further stated that some of the scenes shown in the video were situations the person was hired to prevent from happening.
The video, circulated by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), challenged Costco, a retailer to which Hillandale supplies eggs, to live up to its pledge to move toward selling cage-free eggs.
“We believe our high standards were compromised by this undercover employee, who shot the video in a barn where he was the primary caretaker, with responsibility to maintain cleanliness in the barns, address any equipment issues and remove mortality on a daily basis. It appears clear that he disregarded required operational procedures and then videotaped the barn and flock with the intent to misrepresent Hillandale Farms,” the company said in a statement.
“A full internal investigation by our team and by independent outside academic experts in food safety and hen welfare confirmed our belief – that the images in the video reflect an isolated incident in a barn where the undercover worker held primary responsibility. It was his job to identify and address the types of issues that were shown, and he did not adequately perform his job requirements.”
According to Hillandale Farms, HSUS provided a copy of the video to ABC News, which intended to use the footage in a report on its “Nightline” program. Hillandale decided to use the video as an opportunity to show its animal well-being practices and in turn granted an ABC reporter and producer access to the farm in question. The reporter also interviewed Dr. Gregory Martin of Penn State University, a recognized national egg safety and hen care expert, as well as members of the Hillandale management team. Hillandale provided ABC with copies of recent audits, all of which report excellent results for the farm.
The company further stated that it has identified some areas of production that can be improved, and measures to make those improvements and to expand training for employees has already started.