TURLOCK -- Gemperle Farms today accused an animal rights group of staging an undercover video showing company workers mistreating hens.
"We have reviewed the video images claiming to represent our practices, and find the accusations to be a staged, vicious attack on our reputable company," Gemperle Farms said in a statement.
"We are continuing to investigate and now know our employees were coerced by the activist to engage in behavior that is against our high standards for hen welfare for the sole purpose of filming a sensational video."
The video was released last week by Mercy for Animals. An investigator for the Chicago-based group got a job fixing cages and machines at Gemperle's egg-laying sites in Delhi and Hilmar, the group said. The video was shot with a hidden camera in January and February, it said.
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Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals, defended the video as authentic. In a telephone interview with The Bee today, he said that if Gemperle Farms did not retract its statement, the group would sue for libel.