These haven't been the best of times for Lancaster County's own Kreider Farms.
A recent audit showed the company employed at least 100 employees with false documentation to work in the U.S. — not a good thing considering the politics surrounding immigration reform in this country.
And now the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has come out with an undercover video alleging "deplorable," unsanitary conditions at the farm's egg production facility in Manheim.
Not surprisingly, mainstream media has had a field day.
Nicholas Kristof, a widely read columnist with The New York Times, devoted an entire piece to the video, asking in the headline, "Is an Egg for Breakfast Worth This?"
The Huffington Post website described the video as "disgusting."
ShopRite, a supermarket chain that carries Kreider's products, released a statement saying it would visit the Manheim facility to see for itself what the conditions are like.
Time will tell just what kind of impact this will have on the business. But judging by Kreider Farms’ rapid response to the situation, it can’t be faulted for not trying to get on top of this public relations crisis quickly.
Almost immediately after the story broke before most newspapers or the evening news broadcasts had made their first reports, Kreider Farms President Ron Kreider issued this statement:
"Kreider Farms is considered one of the most progressive egg companies in the United States. The FDA tapped our family-owned farm to help train its inspectors in 2010. And Kreider has been awarded the Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, an award that is given annually to only a handful of U.S. farms.
"We are leading the industry by tearing down old, traditional-style egg houses and replacing them with new, state-of-the-art facilities. More than 80 percent of our chickens are housed in larger, modern cages. By comparison, 80 percent of U.S. caged-egg production still houses birds in older, traditional-style cages.
"It is public knowledge that The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has partnered with United Egg Producers (UEP) to petition the government for national egg production standards. Kreider Farms is not a member of UEP, but we fully support such legislation. More regulation would actually benefit Kreider Farms; with our state-of-the-art facilities, we would have the least to do to comply.
"The allegations by HSUS are a gross distortion of Kreider Farms, our employees and the way we care for our birds. We have no evidence of undercover activity inside our facilities, and there is no evidence that HSUS video footage was taken inside Kreider Farms. There are still many unanswered questions regarding how and when this video was shot, edited and assembled.
"Based upon HSUS' recent accusations, three official, spontaneous inspections of our chicken houses were held on April 11 (the day before HSUS’ press conference) including from the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine. All three inspections provided us with a 'clean bill of health.'
"Our birds are clean, active and healthy. We believe HSUS's allegations are unfounded."
It didn't stop there. The company welcomed a local TV news broadcaster to its Manheim facility for an interview and video footage inside its facilities.
An associate at Boyd Tamney Cross, a prominent public relations firm just outside Philadelphia, has invited Lancaster Farming to tour the farm's facilities.
Stay tuned for the newspaper’s April 21 issue to learn more about Kreider Farms' egg operations and the fallout from this crisis. Judging by the way the company has responded to the situation thus far, it's obvious it wants to stay on top of a situation that could seriously damage its reputation.