BERKELEY (CBS SF/BCN) — Protesting the school’s contract with Tyson Foods, student animal rights activists spilled “blood” on the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California at Berkeley on Wednesday over criticism that the company is cruel to animals.

Tyson Foods is supplying the university with chicken, and student activists with Direct Action Everywhere say Tyson is a factory farm that is cruel to animals.

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The activists said an investigation into Tyson Foods showed chickens starving to death, or unable to get food or water because they couldn’t stand or walk.

Student activists said the “blood” used in the protest is made from food coloring and vegetable glycerin and poses no threat to people or animals.

University of California at Berkeley student activists with Direct Action Everywhere on Aug. 25, 2021, protest a university contract with Tyson Foods, which they said is cruel to animals. (Photos courtesy Direct Action Everywhere)

“UC Berkeley should be leading the way in doing what’s right, not defending the violent status quo,” said Zoe Rosenberg, a UC Berkeley student and an investigator with Direct Action Everywhere. “Our leaders and our food system are failing animals, workers, and the future of this planet.”

UC Berkeley students met with the university’s executive director of dining Christopher Henning in April, and he rejected the idea that Tyson Foods uses factory farm methods, according to the activists.

Students are acting now because productive dialogue with university officials has broken down, they said.

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University spokesman Adam Ratliff responded to the actions Wednesday, saying, “We have proactively reviewed the meat products and sustainability portfolio information from our suppliers to ensure alignment with the University of California Office of the President sustainability criteria.

“For example, we purchase certified humane labeled Mary’s Chicken, a major meat item we use,” Ratliff said. “We will only work with suppliers who meet halal and kosher requirements and/or whose animal welfare methods are in alignment with best practices and will discontinue our relationship with any supplier if they fail to live up to these standards.”

Indeed, activists said that the university ended its contract with Seaboard Foods, which supplied pork to the university. That was after an investigation in August 2020 by UC Berkeley students.

Ratliff added, “In our campus dining facilities, we prioritize using ingredients that are locally grown, humanely treated, and environmentally and socially responsible.

Students want the university to stop buying from alleged factory farms including Hormel Foods, Tyson, and Harris Ranch Beef Company.

People who want to support the protest can sign a petition at DxE.io/UCB.

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