Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • An undercover investigator for the animal rights group Mercy for Animals worked at different egg farms run by Sparboe Farms in Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota.

    An undercover investigator for the animal rights group Mercy for Animals worked at different egg farms run by Sparboe Farms in Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota for three months earlier this year. The investigator, "Scott," shot undercover video footage at the facilities that Mercy for Animals says shows unsanitary and inhumane conditions. Sparboe Farms is the country's fifth largest egg producer.
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • egg slideshow

    One of the facilities where Scott shot video, the Sparboe Farms egg farm in Vincent, Iowa, had passed its preliminary inspection by the FDA a month beforehand, but Scott says he witnessed dirty conditions. At Sparboe, like most major egg producers, the chickens are kept in "battery cages," six to a cage, stacked high in rows twice the length of a football field.
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • egg slideshow

    According to Scott, "There were flies swarming the battery cages, there were rodents running around in and out of the walls and underneath the cages." Rodents and flies are one of the main ways salmonella can be spread among chicken populations.
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • Scott's video also shows workers cleaning out dead birds. At one point, Scott says, he sat in on a company-wide conference call that warned of possible infiltration by animal rights activists, who might be trying to get pictures inside the facilities.

    Scott's video also shows workers cleaning out dead birds. At one point, Scott says, he sat in on a company-wide conference call that warned of possible infiltration by animal rights activists, who might be trying to get pictures inside the facilities.
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • The birds had apparently been left for days or weeks to rot in the cages while other hens laid their eggs.

    The birds had apparently been left for days or weeks to rot in the cages while other hens laid their eggs.
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • Gross! Salmonella Outbreak Scandal

    ABC News showed the undercover tape to David Acheson, who was the head of food safety for the FDA in the Bush administration. "That's a public health threat," said Acheson. "Flies love dead meat. And that's dead meat. And it should be gone."
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • egg slideshow

    According to Scott, Sparboe workers sometimes killed chickens by hand. Some of his footage shows a worker swinging a chicken around by its feet. In this image, a Sparboe worker is allegedly snapping a chick's neck with his hands. "I saw workers do horrendous things to birds," said Scott. "They were thrown, grabbed by the neck, they were slammed in and out of cages."
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • ABC News recently visited the Sparboe egg plant in Vincent, Iowa, the facility where "Scott" had worked that had passed a preliminary FDA inspection. Scott said he observed flies and rodents in the facility during his time there.

    ABC News recently visited the Sparboe egg plant in Vincent, Iowa, the facility where "Scott" had worked that had passed a preliminary FDA inspection. Scott said he observed flies and rodents in the facility during his time there. At the time of the ABC News visit, the plant was the source of all McDonald's eggs for restaurants west of the Mississippi.
    Courtesy of Mercy for Animals
  • egg slideshow

    Sparboe produces hundreds of millions of eggs and claims it has never discovered salmonella in a single egg. Ken Klippen of Sparboe told ABC News, "I've been at barns all around the world, this is state of the art when it comes to egg production."
    ABC News
  • egg slideshow

    Klippen defended the use of battery cages, but said the individuals seen mistreating animals in the Mercy for Animals undercover video had been fired. Sparboe also said the conditions seen in the video were an aberration.
    ABC News
  • After ABC News confronted McDonald's with the results of its investigation and the Mercy for Animals video, McDonald's issued a statement saying it would no longer get its eggs from Sparboe.

    After ABC News confronted McDonald's with the results of its investigation and the Mercy for Animals video, McDonald's issued a statement saying it would no longer get its eggs from Sparboe. On Thursday, the FDA sent Sparboe a warning letter that found "serious violations" at five of its locations involving "unsanitary conditions whereby [the eggs] may have been rendered injurious to health."
    Getty Images
  • Federal investigators found that eggs from another Iowa egg producer, Wright County Egg, were a principal source of a 2010 salmonella outbreak that made more than 1,900 people sick.

    Federal investigators found that eggs from another Iowa egg producer, Wright County Egg, were a principal source of a 2010 salmonella outbreak that made more than 1,900 people sick. This Aug. 25, 2010 photo shows one of the chicken confinement sites operated by Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa.
    Ryan J. Foley/AP Photo
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