Poultry company priorities: Vegetarian meals for the chickens, but their workers still can’t use the bathroom

By | 2018-01-14T18:03:08+00:00 February 24th, 2016|2 Comments

This week’s announcement by Allen Harim Foods offers another upsetting example of a poultry company that cares more about its chickens than its employees. The Delaware-based company broadcasted that it

“…is one of the first companies in the nation that has moved to a 100 percent vegetarian feed for its chickens.”

The firm says the move responds to

“…what our customers are telling us” about wanting to buy healthy chicken products.

I can’t help but wonder how their customers would respond if Allen Harim posed this question to consumers:

“Should the employees who skin, debone and package our chicken be allowed to use the bathroom?”

Allen Harim is the firm that was cited by OSHA in June 2015 for failing to make lavatories available to their employees at the company’s plant in Harbeson, DE. OSHA’s citation reads:

“Employees were not granted permission to use them [toilets] and/or were not replaced at their lines, waiting up to 40 minutes to use lavatories.”

OSHA requires employers to make bathrooms available so that workers can use them when they need to.

Allen Harim was also cited for a host of hazards related to the fast, repetitive and twisting motions required to cut the chicken parts which lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, trigger thumb, and shoulder problems. They also violated OSHA’s rules for keeping accurate records of work-related injuries.

Allen Harim’s announcement this week doesn’t end with their lucky chickens’ vegetarian meals. It also goes on and on about an updated logo for their packaging.

“A color band was added to the bottom for a more streamlined look. ‘The redesign effort was fueled by listening to the growing interest by consumers on how their food is produced. …The is new packaging and logo is designed to emphasize what’s most important to consumers when choosing poultry products…’”

“You really can’t make this stuff up,” is what Debbie Berkowitz remarked to me. Berkowitz is with the National Employment Law Project and a former senior policy advisor at OSHA. “Boasting about vegetarian feed while workers are not being allowed to use the bathrooms? To be fully transparent to consumers, Allen Harim should be announcing that they are going to comply with the law and allow workers to use the bathrooms and correct the other hazards cited.”

Allen Harim’s customers should know that the company is contesting the OSHA citations. I’d place a big bet on this: the lawyers they’ve hired to fight OSHA get to use the bathroom whenever they have to go.


About the Author:

Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH
Celeste Monforton is a fellow in the Collegium Ramazzini; a lecturer at Texas State University; and professorial lecturer at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. She receives funding from the Public Welfare Foundation.


  1. maria payan February 27, 2016 at 1:12 am - Reply

    This industry treats their employees badly and the their neighbors too..but the state is giving it’s blessing with 2 low interest loans , originating with federal money-while deciding NOT to do an EIS.
    BTW, in this same article puff piece, they actually say their birds are “hand raised”-Wow-talk about creative marketing-the only hand raising in a factory farm is either culling a chicken, or picking up the mortality. Everything else is push button -automated. Thank you for writing this. I would love to speak with you if possible

  2. Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH
    Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH February 27, 2016 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I’d be happy to speak with you. Email; cmonfort_at_gwu (dot edu)

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