In a statement, the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture said the agency was "cooperating with law enforcement agencies in Hoke County in their investigation of whether any of our employees may have inappropriately shared information about an animal cruelty investigation at a turkey farm. Once the investigation is complete, we will take appropriate action based on the facts."
Butterball, which accounts for 20 percent of total turkey production in the U.S., has said it was "shocked" by the undercover video, is taking the animal cruelty investigation seriously, and has a "zero tolerance policy for any mistreatment of our birds." The company said that as a result of an internal investigation, it is evaluating its animal welfare policies, and has fired "several associates for failure to follow Butterball animal care and well-being policies."
"We are taking steps to help ensure that all new and existing associates have a clear understanding of our animal well-being policies," said Rod Brenneman, president and CEO of Butterball. "In addition to requiring all associates to sign an animal well-being agreement to report abuse immediately, we are performing an intense review across all company operations."