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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The video played in a downtown Miami hotel Thursday begins with an announcer’s voice, ominous sounding music playing underneath.
“A shocking new footage reveals what Burger King wants to keep hidden,” the announcer says.
The Lever Foundation, an animal rights group, showed reporters video of thousands of hens, crammed into tiny cages in an egg production plant in Taiwan. Among its biggest customers, activists say, is Burger King.
“Each mother hen spends nearly her entire life packed in a cage so small, she can barely turn around,” the narrator says over images of hens crowded into cages that might be two feet square.
The hens can be seen panicking in a futile effort to escape.
“They will never be able to fully spread their wings or engage in natural behavior. Birds have to climb on top of one another just to move around,” the video says.
Many of the hens are rubbed raw, their feathers torn off as they’re constantly scraped against the confining cage. And there is feces and filth.
“Eggs gather in dirty collection trays. Flies crawl around the trays and swarm all over the farm,” the video explains, as images of swarming flies and piles of feces are displayed.
Activists say eggs produced in such operations are much more likely to contain dangerous salmonella.
There are caged egg production plants in the U.S., but nothing like the one in Taiwan, according to the Lever Foundation.
“These farms that are so filthy and cruel, that were they located in the U.S., they would violate industry standards,” said Lever’s Executive Director, Nick Cooney.
Burger King issued a statement Thursday saying, in part, “We’re committed to continuous improvement with respect to animal welfare throughout our global markets…We take this topic very seriously and will be investigating these claims regarding our suppliers in Asia.”
Burger King has pledged to stop using cage-produced eggs in North America and Europe by 2025.
The company had previously vowed to achieve that goal by 2017.
Activists want the company to expand the ban globally, that Asians and others are consuming eggs laid under torturous conditions and more likely to be contaminated with bacteria.
Animal rights activists say consumers might want to pass on a Croissan’wich at BK, and instead have a breakfast sandwich at Starbucks, one of many companies that have vowed to end the use of cage-produced eggs worldwide.