Most Recent Activity

Thursday, December 15th: Michigan State University poultry extension specialist Dr. Darrin Karcher joins the Sustainability Task Force as the team’s animal welfare expert. Dr. Karcher promotes poultry education among the commercial poultry industry, small flock producers and youth agricultural groups. His research focus is management practices, skeletal issues, and nutrition related to the layer industry. He holds a Ph.D. in animal sciences.

Monday, December 12th: Communications professional Susie Bell, with Himle Rapp & Company, Inc., joins the Sustainability Task Force with a focus on sustainability, customer/consumer trends and public affairs. Formerly SUPERVALU’s manager of corporate public affairs and a key member of the company’s food safety team, she led public communications response efforts on food safety issues and recalls, and also has worked directly with numerous animal welfare and sustainability groups.

Friday, December 9th: Andrew Rhorer, most recently senior coordinator of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), accepts position as food safety expert on Sparboe Farms’ Sustainability Task Force. Andrew has been intimately involved in the poultry and egg industry for more than three decades. At NPIP, he had responsibility over all egg-type breeding flocks in the U.S. relative to Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) and was the egg industry’s liaison on the USDA’s SE Task Force. He was a member of the first U.S. team to test shell eggs for SE from environmentally positive layer flocks.

Tuesday, December 6th: Sparboe Farms provided a written response to the FDA letter received on November 16, responding within the required 15 days since initial receipt of the letter from FDA’s Minneapolis District Office.

Tuesday, November 29th: Sparboe Farms confirms internal team for Sustainability Task Force: Ken Klippen, executive director of government relations; Amy Eppen, director of compliance; and Brian Joyer, general manager.

Friday, November 25th: Two additional third-party on-site assessments were completed today reviewing Sparboe Farms compliance with the corrective actions submitted to FDA. One at our Goodell, Iowa location (inspection #1 in the November 16th letter) and the other at our Hudson, Colorado location, (inspection #3).

Wednesday, November 23rd: Sparboe Farmsappoints manager to newly created position of Director of Compliance to lead the company’s efforts in designing and implementing internal controls, policies and procedures relating to all laws, regulations, audits and investigations as well as customer and third party guidelines. The position will also be responsible for evaluating and improving Sparboe Farm’s monitoring and reporting practices.

Tuesday, November 22nd: We have an agreement with Food Integrity Minnesota to provide an outside, independent assessment of our facilities and protocols and to assist us in responding to regulatory actions. As a first step, Food Integrity Minnesota was on-site today at our Humboldt location assessing the corrective actions that were put into place for inspection location #4 listed in the FDA November 16th letter.

Monday, November 21st:  The initial third-party expert assessment of our compliance corrective actions was completed today at our Prairie location. These assessments are for our own verification that all corrective actions as noted in our response to locations #2 on our November 16th letter from the FDA are indeed taking place.  The assessments will continue at the other four locations as we verify all of our corrective actions are in place and being followed.

Sunday, November 20th: Sparboe Farms today engaged Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (OFWLaw) in Washington D.C. to assist Sparboe Farms’ FDA compliance team by providing oversight  and direction as Sparboe management enhances our food safety compliance programs. At OFWLaw, their Agricultural team members’ focus on FDA and USDA-FSIS regulatory matters relating to meat and poultry production and FDA regulated products and related food safety issues. This Sparboe Farms Compliance team together with OFWLaw has developed an initial corrective action log for responding to the FDA warning letter.

Saturday, November 19th:Sparboe Farms held a media briefing in Minneapolis toannounce the formation of a Sustainability Task Force that is charged with reviewing all current company practices in the areas of food safety, animal care and sustainability. The task force will also develop additional best practices in those areas for all of the company’s production and processing facilities.  Media from television, print and radio attended.

Friday, November 18th:  In addition to the four employees already fired, management changes have taken place, and our investigation is ongoing.

Thursday, November 17th:  In a conference call with the FDA, Sparboe learned that some of the corrective actions taken related to 483s were insufficient. Immediate steps were initiated to rectify.

Wednesday, November 16th:  FDA’s Minneapolis District Office issues warning letter recapping violations found during inspections conducted between April 25 and July 22 at five Sparboe Farms. Sparboe responded to each 483 within 15 days as required, documenting implementation of corrective actions.

For more information regarding the Egg Safety Rule and 483s, please click here.

Timeline of Responses

November 1st: Sparboe Farms learns of alleged animal abuse from ABC News and immediately asks for verification. Internal incident team is formed. Internal investigation launched.

November 3rd: Sparboe again asks ABC News for details and complete videos. ABC News promises verification. Farm procedure audit begins. Farm managers reinforce animal welfare policies on site at all facilities.

November 4th: ABC News supplies still photos taken from video clips. Sparboe incident team begins to analyze photos to identify individuals and farm locations involved. Sparboe makes additional request to access all video for its investigation. Incident team seeks independent audit of facilities and review of animal welfare policies.

November 5th: ABC News is again asked for video of alleged abuse. Third party auditor is identified. Plans are made for incident team to assemble November 6th.

November 6th: Sparboe incident team assembles and begins to plan procedural audit and action steps.

November 7th: Incident team meets on-site at one of the farms that can be identified in still photos. ABC News is again asked for video to verify locations and workers shown in videos. Partial video clips released to Sparboe Farms the afternoon of November 7th.

November 8th: Third party audit proceeds at farm in question. Sparboe Farms asks ABC News to confirm if additional video exists, beyond what was already shared, and also requests name of organization responsible for undercover filming. Employees in videos conclusively identified and fired. USDA is notified of undercover video.

November 9th: Positively identified employees in the video interviewed and terminated. Incident team continues to interview other employees potentially involved or having knowledge of those involved. Crews on farms reconfigured to remove individuals who may have been involved. Sparboe Farms issues statement to ABC News.

November 10th: Audit results received – Sparboe Farms found to be in full compliance with animal welfare policies.

ABC News crew, including Brian Ross, tours facility (barn housed with hens and processing floor) to document conditions inside Sparboe barns. Cameras allowed. Crew is required to sign biosecurity form and is accompanied by a production manager. ABC News confirms Mercy for Animals as its source for the undercover videos.

November 11th: Sparboe management notifies employees at all locations of ongoing investigation and potential for media coverage.

November 13th: Began re-training all barn workers, including production leads, production managers, bird crew, crew leaders, pullet managers and pullet barn workers in proper animal care procedures, including bird handling, euthanasia, food, water, daily inspection, health and veterinary care.

November 14th: Sparboe Farms reminds employees of confidential hotline for calling in concerns anonymously, including violations of animal welfare policies.

In response to Sparboe’s most recent request to see all available video, ABC News will not provide and directs company to Mercy for Animals.

November 15th: Written request submitted to Mercy for Animals for complete, unedited versions of all recordings.

Wednesday, November 16th:  FDA’s Minneapolis District Office issues warning letter recapping violations found during inspections conducted between April 25 and July 22 at five Sparboe Farms. Sparboe responded to each 483 within 15 days as required, documenting implementation of corrective actions.