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New Sparboe Farms task force to review safety, animal care

LITCHFIELD -- Despite losing some of its biggest customers last weekend following negative reaction from an undercover video, Sparboe Farms said Monday it is finding markets for its eggs and does not intend to reduce flock size or lay off employees.

Sparboe spokesman Chuck Sanger said the eggs are being sold to meet market demands. "There's always a market for a good, high-quality product," Sanger said.

Some Sparboe Farms eggs, which are produced in Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado, are continuing to be sold under private labels, although Sanger would not provide the names.

While the company has confidence in its product, company officials know they have a lot of work to do to change operations and restore public faith.

"We're going to learn everything we possibly can about what happened and do everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said. "This matters to us, our customers and those who consume our products."

Sparboe Farms says it has created a new Sustainability Task Force to review food safety, animal care and sustainability issues to ensure the actions seen on the video are not repeated.

Sanger said the company was "saddened and disappointed" to see four workers -- who are no longer employed by Sparboe -- do things that are "diametrically opposed to our care policies."

Although the video included shots that were disturbing and not normal operations -- a worker swinging a chicken over his head, for one -- Sanger said some parts of the video depicted poultry care that is typical in a large operation but that may not be understood by the public.

Removing beaks from chicks is done to prevent adult chickens from pecking each other to death, he said.

McDonalds and Target are now getting their eggs from different suppliers.

Sanger said he didn't know if those new suppliers raise their chickens any differently than Sparboe. "That's a great question that I would love to know the answer to," he said.


Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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