An investigative report from RevealNews.org tells us Simmons Foods – one of the largest pet food co-packers in the U.S. – utilizes court ordered rehab participants as employees. The rehab is not state licensed, ’employees’ are not paid a salary and Simmons does not pay workers’ compensation insurance, payroll taxes or medical care.
Getting to know who manufactures your pet’s food.
In 2015, the New York Times published an investigative story of slave labor fishing vessels in Thailand; the investigation proved fish sourced from these slave labor boats were utilized in Purina and Mars pet foods.
Through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests, this website published information that Mars Petcare employees were exposed to multiple toxins in the work place – ignored by Mars and every regulatory authority.
And now we learn concerning information about Simmons Foods.
When Menu Foods was found to be the manufacturing source of the deadliest pet food recall in history (2007), the Menu Foods pet food reputation was destroyed. No pet owner wanted pet food manufactured at Menu. Three years later Menu Foods sold their pet food plants to Simmons Foods for a reported $239 million. Little was heard of Simmons since the 2010 purchase of Menu, that is until an investigative story was recently published on RevealNews.org.
The following information comes from an investigation by RevealNews.org – “Reveal interviewed scores of former participants and employees, court officials and judges and reviewed hundreds of pages of court documents, tax filings and workers’ compensation records.”
The worst day of Brad McGahey’s life was the day a judge decided to spare him from prison. Standing in a tiny wood-paneled courtroom in rural Oklahoma in 2010, he faced one year in state prison. The judge had another plan. “You need to learn a work ethic,” the judge told him. “I’m sending you to CAAIR.”
CAAIR stands for “Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery”. The CAAIR website states “The CAAIR Recovery Center was created on one basic idea; to provide every man an equal opportunity to achieve a life free from addiction.”
At CAAIR, about 200 men live on a sprawling, grassy compound in northeastern Oklahoma, and most work full time at Simmons Foods Inc., a company with annual revenue of $1.4 billion. They slaughter and process chickens for some of America’s largest retailers and restaurants, including Walmart, KFC and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. They also make pet food for PetSmart and Rachael Ray’s Nutrish brand.
But the CAAIR organization is not a licensed rehab facility.
Drug courts in Oklahoma are required to send defendants for treatment at certified programs with trained counselors and state oversight. CAAIR is uncertified. Only one of its three counselors is licensed, and no state agency regulates it.
It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force while helping men overcome their addictions.
In fact, the RevealNews.org story appears to show CAAIR is little more than a court ordered work camp. The companies who utilize CAAIR ‘clients’ don’t “have to pay workers’ compensation insurance, payroll taxes or medical care.” The court ordered CAAIR ‘clients’ are required to work full time (mainly for Simmons Foods) for no pay.
At some rehabs, defendants get to keep their pay. At CAAIR and many others, they do not.
Inside CAAIR’s dormitories, Bible verses and Simmons Foods posters line the walls.
Simmons Foods now is so reliant on CAAIR for some shifts that the plants likely would shut down if the men didn’t show up, according to former staff members and plant supervisors.
The program has become an invaluable labor source. Over the years, Simmons Foods repeatedly has laid off paid employees while expanding its use of CAAIR. Simmons now is so reliant on the program for some shifts that the plants likely would shut down if the men didn’t show up, according to former staff members and plant supervisors.
Men who were injured while at CAAIR rarely receive long-term help for their injuries. That’s because the program requires all men to sign a form stating that they are clients, not employees, and therefore have no right to workers’ comp. Reveal found that when men got hurt, CAAIR filed workers’ comp claims and kept the payouts. Injured men and their families never saw a dime.
Unjust? Yes. “The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma now is considering legal action”. But…
Courts still send defendants to CAAIR, and the program is expanding. Simmons Foods even donated funds for a third dormitory to house dozens more men.
From the Simmons Foods website:
Simmons operates 3 hatcheries and 2 feed mills which supply nearly 300 independent poultry growers and 20+ company managed farms who raise approximately 200 million chickens per year. Our 6 processing plants produce 750 million pounds of finished product per year for customer brands around the world.
Simmons Pet Food operates 3 wet pet food production facilities, a dry pet food facility and a treats production facility. These operations are located in the United States including Northwest Arkansas, Kansas, New Jersey and in Ontario, Canada.
Simmons operates multiple ingredient production facilities in Southwest City, Missouri and a Pet Food Ingredient Facility in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Simmons Foods is the co-packer for multiple pet food brands.
Get to know who manufactures your pet’s food. What you learn IS important. If a brand will not disclose to you who manufactures for them – find another brand that will be transparent with you.
To read the full story from RevealNews.org visit: https://www.revealnews.org/article/they-thought-they-were-going-to-rehab-they-ended-up-in-chicken-plants/
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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