Press Kit: Whole Foods' Deadly Thanksgiving Feast Exposed
- Press release
- Photos, video, and b-roll
- Fact sheet and full investigative report
- About Direct Action Everywhere
Contact: Wayne Hsiung, firstname.lastname@example.org, (650) 465-1672
Whole Foods’ Thanksgiving Turkey Exposed in Animal Rights Investigation
Footage of Celebrated Farm Shows Animals Suffering in Cramped Sheds
November 19, 2015, San Francisco – Today, a team of investigators with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, led by a former professor of law at Northwestern University, released an exposé and investigatory report showing widespread animal cruelty at a major Whole Foods turkey supplier, Diestel Family Turkey Ranch.
Diestel Family Turkey Ranch, which slaughters over two million birds every year, is one of only three farms out of over 2100, that have received the highest 5+ rating under Whole Foods animal welfare marketing program. Yet investigators found cramped, filthy sheds packed with tens of thousands of languishing birds. Indeed, records from the facilty show that up to 7% of birds dying every week. Birds were often found with dangerously inflamed crops, open sores, crippled legs, or without feathers. A small number of animals were so sick that investigators were morally compelled to remove them for emergency medical attention.
Investigators in addition found that all of Whole Foods’ advertising of Diestel Family Turkey Ranch, which featured birds roaming on open pastures, comes from only one of its farms. A 2013 water usage report indicated that this “showcase” farm supplied less than 1% of Diestel’s turkeys through 2012, and ceased to be a commercial turkey producer in 2013– despite its continued public prominence in Whole Foods’ advertising. When investigators visited this showcase farm posing as customers, a Diestel employee said, “All of our turkeys are raised in the same manner as our turkeys are here”.
Investigators say the fraud at Whole Foods is systemic. Tax reports reveal that the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), an independent 501c3 which oversees Whole Foods’ “5-Step” animal welfare rating system and hires so-called third-party auditors to certify Whole Foods’ meat suppliers, is in fact funded 90-95% by Whole Foods itself. While GAP publicly states that it oversees over 300 million animals, it has a tiny staff paid less than $100,000 in total salary. Moreover, GAP’s former executive director, Anne Malleau, previously served as a Whole Foods’ Global Meat Coordinator.
“They have the thieves guarding the house from bandits,” DxE lead investigator Wayne Hsiung said. “The system is set up to deceive consumers and abuse animals.”
Investigators say these facts expose Whole Foods’ “humane” marketing scheme as an attempt in public relations rather than animal welfare. They further claim that their findings, from one of only three suppliers to attain a GAP rating of “5+”, indicts animal agriculture at large. They say that if the best “humane” facilities practice extensive violence against animals, then the entire industry deserves scrutiny. They are calling for Whole Foods to stop its fraudulent marketing and remove meat from its shelves. Protests against Whole Foods are planned this weekend in dozens of cities.
Direct Action Everywhere is an international network of animal rights activists challenging speciesism in society. We use creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment. Visit Direct Action Everywhere on facebook and at http://directactioneverywhere.com/. Follow us on Twitter @DxEverywhere.
- "Animal agriculture is inherently violent. If the best animal farms - like this one - inflict horrible violence against animals, what does that say about the system as a whole?" said lead investigator and former law professor Wayne Hsiung. "There is no right way to kill an animal who wants to live."
- "When Whole Foods tells consumers that its tortured turkey come from a happy farm that doesn't exist, that's humanewashing," said investigator and Direct Action Everywhere campaign coordinator Priya Sawhney.
- "As a nation, we celebrate Thanksgiving without a thought for who lies on the table," said investigator and Direct Action Everywhere organizer Chris Van Breen. "It's a deadly feast, with over 45 million turkeys killed every Thanksgiving alone. We hope this investigation will bring to light the violence that's typically hidden behind closed doors every year."
PHOTOS, VIDEO, and B-Roll
Fact Sheet and Full Investigative Report
See a fact sheet and full investigative report here. Details include violations of Whole Foods' own animal welfare standards, a water report indicating that Whole Foods' "showcase" turkey farm isn't a farm at all, and facts about the number of birds housed and slaughtered by Diestel Family Turkey Ranch every year.
About Direct Action Everywhere
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) is a grassroots animal rights network of animal rights activists. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area in late 2013, DxE has since grown to have participating chapters in over 130 cities in 20 different countries. Drawing from the power of the grassroots and groundbreaking social scientific research, DxE uses creative nonviolent protest to challenge speciesism throughout society.
In January 2015, DxE released an investigation of a “Certified Humane” Whole Foods egg supplier, which was covered in the New York Times and Mother Jones among 50 other media outlets. In conjunction, DxE launched a campaign against the company, “Truth Matters”, which seeks to target Whole Foods’ false “humane” advertising, most prominent in their $20 million “Values Matter” PR campaign.
Shortly after the investigation, DxE launched its Open Rescue network, which provides open-source educational tools and resources to democratize investigatory work. The Open Rescue Network intends to serve as infrastructure for independent, grassroots teams of animal rights investigators around the world.
Direct Action Everywhere has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, and the Huffington Post amongst hundreds of other media outlets. See press highlights and a full press archive here. To contact our press team, email email@example.com.