An animal rights group has sued Diestel Turkey Ranch, based near Sonora, on the grounds that its misleads consumers about how the birds are raised.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by Direct Action Everywhere, the same Berkeley-based group that claimed in 2015 to have documented abuses in an undercover video. The activists claim Diestel markets itself as a producer of pasture-raised turkey but that footage shows dirty, crowded conditions inside barns.
Heidi Diestel, part of the fourth generation at the company, said Tuesday that it adheres to animal welfare standards and it’s not clear that the video was shot on its property. She added that Direct Action Everywhere’s goal is to end animal agriculture.
“We don’t feel that these allegations represent our family or our farm practices,” Diestel said. “We have a strong commitment to the well-being of our birds.”
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The company has a detailed rebuttal to the video on its website, pointing out that all of its turkeys get at least some access to the outdoors. It also said no problems were found in follow-up visits by Whole Foods Market, one of its main retailers, and the Global Animal Partnership auditing program.
Diestel is a small part of the Califonia poultry industry, dominated by Foster Farms in Livingston, but has made its mark with organic turkeys, “heirloom” breeds and other niche products.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda Superior Court, accuses Diestel of violating state law against false advertising. “Consumers and animals both pay the price for that fraud,” plaintiff attorney Kim Richman said in a news release.
John Holland: 209-578-2385