Tests taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have shown that a popular poultry brand sold at Whole Foods is not as safe and ethical with their food as they claim to be.

The tests found that meat from “Diestel Turkey” was filled with various drugs and antibiotics that have been banned in the US. Among the most harmful of these drugs is chloramphenicol, which has been known to cause, “severe toxic effects in humans including bone marrow suppression or aplastic anemia in susceptible individuals,” according to the FDA. Ketamine, the animal tranquilizer and party drug found commonly at raves was also found in samples of the Turkey, leading many to believe that Diestel is lying about how they treat their Turkeys and about how safe their food is.

As with most of the brands sold at Whole Foods, Diestel markets its products by appealing to people who are more health conscious, or people who just want to avoid factory farms. Whole Foods has given Diestel their 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating standard, which is supposed to ensure that animals are free range and not treated with hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.

On their website, Diestel says that:

“All of our whole-body Diestel turkeys are raised under our strict standards. We support our turkeys with a healthy environment, fresh mountain water, and the clean air from the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Our feed never contains fillers, our birds are never given growth stimulants or antibiotics, and we never make compromises when it comes to the quality of the feed. We pay close attention to the health of our birds by spending time with them in the fields, observing their behaviors, and making sure they have the best environment possible.”

However, recent investigations into the company show that they have been lying about the use of drugs and antibiotics in their turkeys. Animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) launched an independent investigation last year, and they claim that the only turkeys on the company’s farm are just for appearances and that the majority of their turkeys are kept in terrible conditions in factory farms.

“Diestel Turkey Ranch, which has received Whole Foods’ highest rating for animal welfare, operates a showcase farm in Sonora, CA that is heavily promoted in the company’s marketing and described as ‘humane. However, the showcase farm does not, in fact, raise any animals for sale — it’s nothing more than a prop,” a report from DxE stated.

The group is currently suing Diestel for false advertisement and deceiving consumers about their business practices.

Whole Foods released a statement saying that they do not believe that the video footage taken by DxE was actually at Diestel Farms.

“Within hours of this video being brought to our attention, Whole Foods Market sent an expert team to evaluate the conditions of the Diestel farm. Our team found that the conditions were not as they were portrayed in the video. We go to great lengths to rigorously evaluate all of our suppliers and we maintain the most stringent standards in the industry. Whole Foods Market is proud to stand behind the many hard-working farmers such as the Diestel family, who are committed to maintaining a high level of animal welfare,” Whole Foods spokesman Michael Silverman said.

However, DxE investigator Wayne Hsiung told the Washington Post that they have GPS data associated with the videos, proving that the footage was taken of Diestel’s turkeys.

“Unless they teleported the farm from Jamestown to another area, you can see exactly where they are taken,” Hsiung said.

Despite the new findings about Diestel products, from both DxE and the USDA, Whole Foods has continued to sell their turkeys through the Thanksgiving season. Activists have set up a petition calling for Whole Foods to take Diestel Turkeys off their shelves.


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