1. I am a qualified veterinary surgeon having graduated in 1968. In 1972 I obtained an MSC and in 1976 I completed a PhD in veterinary pathology. In 1987 I obtained a Diploma in Poultry Medicine and Production. I sit on the Farm and Animal Welfare Council which advises the Government about animal welfare practices and legislation. I have recently edited a textbook published by Longmans entitled 'The Health of Poultry". It is a textbook for students, Agricultural Managers and Veterinary Surgeons.
2. I currently hold the position of Group Technical Manager of Sun Valley Limited with responsibility for the veterinary and technical service of the company. I have worked for Sun Valley for 11 years, my position on joining being that of Head of Veterinary Services. At all times throughout my employment with Sun Valley I have been involved with bird welfare and hygiene. 3. The purpose of my responsibilities is to provide a diagnostic and technical service to the agricultural part of the business which will obviously include the health and welfare of the birds, at all stages: rearing, catching and slaughtering.
4. I have read the leaflet prepared by Greenpeace (London) and the allegations in the pleadings with regard to the rearing and slaughter of animals and food hygiene.
5. I have also read the report of Dr. Neville Gregory and in particular those sections relating to the rearing and slaughter of chickens. The practices, procedures and standards of husbandry observed and described by Dr. Gregory in his report are the day-to-day norm at Sun Valley. They have been consistently observed and maintained throughout the entire period that Sun Valley have supplied McDonald's Restaurants Limited with chicken products.
6. Sun Valley currently uses 35 million chickens a year reared on nearly 200 farms. Some of the farms are company owned and others are independently owned. It employs 3,750 people in Hereford, with a turkey factory in Abergavenny. The company produces poultry products for McDonald's Restaurants Limited, which is its biggest customer, and also for other major UK supermarket chains.
7. It is an important part of Sun Valley's philosophy and procedures to ensure that high standards of hygiene, animal welfare and safety are adopted and maintained at all times. A copy of the company's statement on husbandry and welfare of broiler chickens is appended hereto at "MP 1". The conditions described in this document have been in force at Sun Valley throughout the 11 years that I have held my present position with the company. One of the ways in which the company is able to ensure that these high standards are maintained is by ensuring that all staff are properly trained and supervised.
8. The job requirements of a farm manager with responsibility for the rearing of chickens are set out at Appendix "MP 2" of this statement.
9. The independent farmers who rear chicken undergo the same supervision as company farms as they each have a company area manager responsible for them. They are obliged to buy the feed and the chicks from Sun Valley and the contract between them and the company specifies that the independent farmer shall sell the birds back to Sun Valley and so they are part of our integrated system.
10. All stockmen are required to attend a Health and Welfare for Broiler Growers Course and at Appendix "MP 3" I enclose a copy of a sample certificate of attendance of one of our stockmen.
11. Very strict quality control procedures are to be applied to the raw materials going into feed for poultry. This ensures that birds remain healthy and that the ration is of the right quality and matches the analytical requirements.
12. Once the chickens reach the required weight they are then caught by trained catchers and transported to the company's slaughterhouse. Again, the tasks and responsibilities of those involved in the catching and transportation process are set out in detail in the job analyses (at Appendix "MP 4") which record the sequence of steps to be taken, the key quality or production factors that have to be taken into account with regard to each step and the key safety factors with regard to each step. It will be seen that the emphasis on the key safety factors relates to the welfare of both the birds and of our staff.
13. All farm managers, including independent owners are encouraged to be present at the catching process to ensure that the handlers adopt the best practices, particularly with regard to bird welfare.
14. The birds are then transported to Sun Valley for slaughter and processing and the pre-slaughter handling is set out in detail in the operating procedures and job analysis attached at Appendix "MP 5". It will be seen that the operating procedure is designed to ensure that safety, quality, welfare procedures, personnel movement, storage and productiveness are all maintained. These job analyses document detail the steps that have to be taken in the procedure and each step has marked against it quality or production factors and safety provisions appropriate to each task. Again, hygiene, safety and welfare are principle factors to be taken into account in conducting these tasks.
15. The majority of the documents at Appendix 4 relating to pre-slaughter handling give the effective dates as 1993. Whenever the procedures are amended - and our procedures are constantly under review - the new document will bear the current date. However I confirm that there have been no major changes to the systems and the practices the company adopts with regard to the health, welfare, safety or conditions of the birds or staff, or to our hygiene practices. The company's practices have remained very consistent throughout the whole time I have been employed by Sun Valley.
16. As well as training all staff in the proper practices in relation to their job, their performance is also monitored in various ways. Farm managers monitor the performance of the stockmen and the managers are in turn supervised by an area manager. In other words, with regard to the rearing of the chickens, those persons responsible for the management of the farm, be they company owned or independent, will be responsible for ensuring that the company's practices are enforced.
17. With regard to the catchers, it is the farm managers who observe the catching of the birds to ensure that the best practices are used. Further, any injuries or disease found on the bird on the slaughter line will be recorded and fed back to the manager or to the catchers respectively. Farmers are paid for the live weight of the bird and so commercially it is in their interest to ensure that all birds are properly reared and caught.
18. Further, there is one Official Veterinary Surgeon ("OVS") in attendance on the site to observe the slaughter process and one who is in attendance on the processing site. The OVS is a Local Authority employee responsible for veterinary supervision and meat inspection, as well as having welfare responsibilities. He or she will make spot visits to farms to check that the catching procedures are being properly conducted and is also always in attendance to monitor the welfare of the birds at slaughter.
19. The OVS in attendance on the processing side has responsibilities with regard to the hygiene of the premises and the quality of the product.
20. Additionally, I visit farms on veterinary business and sometimes observe the catching of birds. I have an assistant veterinary surgeon who also visits farms and observes catching and if either he or I observed welfare problems we would bring them to the attention of the farm manager or catcher and take whatever steps were necessary to ensure that it is rectified and/or not repeated.
21. All employees may be disciplined for a number of reasons, including welfare problems. For example, I recall an employee being disciplined because he did not wash equipment between visiting two farms which is contrary to company policy. The requirement to wash equipment is to reduce the risk of disease in the birds.
22. If a catcher places too many birds in a crate to get the job done quickly this too may result in disciplinary action.
23. From my 11 years experience with the company I am satisfied that the standards of health and welfare of the birds is of the highest order and indeed I would not be prepared to continue in my job if I did not feel that the highest standards were maintained. Additionally, hygiene at the farm is part of disease control and an integral part of the agricultural operation. Again, I consider the standards of hygiene at the farms to be of the highest order.
24. Before Sun Valley supplied McDonald's with chicken products, the company was largely involved in the rearing and slaughtering of birds but did not have a de-boning process. Most of the chickens sold were either whole or in pieces.
25. When McDonald's initially approached the company to supply their chicken products it was quite clear that we would have to provide a de-boning process. Consequently we worked very closely with McDonald's, including visiting the U.S. operation for the purpose of purchasing and learning how to use de-boning equipment which was currently in use by the U.S. suppliers so that a de-boning operation could be set up by Sun Valley. We also had to learn how the meat should be formed and coated to the high standards and specification required by McDonald's.
January 13, 1994|
Appeared in court|
exhibits: Not applicable/ available
transcripts of court appearances: