Business & Real Estate

Animal activist group stages protest of Foster Farms outside local Safeway

Shoppers at the Safeway on Alhambra Blvd. Monday afternoon noticed a puzzling sight – a battered costume chicken standing by the corner in 100 degree weather.

Accompanied by several other people lined up along the sidewalk holding banners and photos of abused chickens, the man in the chicken outfit was managing the heat with an ice vest and hydration pack under the bony, bloodied feathers. The protest, which lasted for an hour, was staged by Mercy for Animals, an organization that advocates for an end to animal cruelty.

The protesters are visiting grocery stores that sell Foster Farm products in several cities after a video of chicken abuse at Foster Farms facilities went public. San Jose and Fresno are the next upcoming stops.

Ira Brill, Director of Communications at Foster Farms, called the statewide protests a “gross misrepresentation.”

“Foster Farms has a very robust animal welfare policy,” Brill said. “We engage in extensive employee training and we became the first major producer to be certified by the American Humane Association for animal welfare.”

Brill confirmed that the video Mercy for Animals has been showing as examples of animal cruelty, was linked to Foster Farms. One employee was fired for direct involvement in the activity and four others were also let go for not reporting the incident, he said. “This ( Mercy for Animals) is a vegan organization. It is opposed to the consumption of any meat or dairy products,” he said.

Safeway declined to comment.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with Brill’s comments at 11:45 a.m. July 21, 2015.

Catherine Douglas Moran: 916-321-1202