WHEN AMAZON PURCHASED Whole Foods last month, it didn’t just get the retail locations. It picked up Whole Foods’ baggage as well. Among the bigger issues inherited by Amazon appears to be a four-month investigation from the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere that challenges Whole Foods’ core selling point of healthy and humane food.

The group accused Pitman Family Farms, the maker of Mary’s Free Range Chicken and a supplier to Whole Foods in six Western states, of breaking its promises of free-range environments for its birds.

Direct Action Everywhere, whose mission is to create animal welfare-friendly cities and outlaw some of the practices of factory farming, visited a dozen Pitman farms and never once saw a chicken roaming outside. The group reported that it found no indications of outdoor living, such as feathers or fecal matter. Twenty-four hour surveillance cameras attached to six separate locations revealed no outdoor birds either, the activists said. Instead, chickens were packed shoulder-to-shoulder inside dusty sheds with degraded air quality, forced to challenge one another for access to food and water.

Video of Direct Action Everywhere’s findings showed scattered fighting among the chickens, and smaller birds with injuries, including one with its eye pecked out. They also alleged evidence of “debeaking,” a procedure involving severing the tip of a chicken’s beak with a laser to prevent pecking.

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