Factory Where Workers Used Mouths to Strip Chicken Feet Won’t Be Prosecuted

Workers gnaw the bones from chicken feet in a video taken at Nonglak Payakprom's factory Jan. 23, 2020 in Nong Khai.
Workers gnaw the bones from chicken feet in a video taken at Nonglak Payakprom's factory Jan. 23, 2020 in Nong Khai.

NONG KHAI — While fears of animal-borne illnesses sweep the globe, one chicken processing plant in the northeast was caught gnawing chicken bones out of chicken feet – it’s faster than using tools, the factory owner said.

Days after videos of workers biting the bones out of chicken feet at the factory went viral, local health officials took action on Wednesday and ordered the factory to use pliers to remove the bones instead. Despite the fatal risk of the nibbling raw poultry parts, police say no one has filed a complaint, and therefore no legal action would be taken as of now.

“It seems that they didn’t commit any crime yet. Even the provincial officials haven’t filed anything,” Police Col. Techarat Pathumchart of Ban Duea police said. “However, if the factory doesn’t comply with orders to stop using mouths, then they would be in the wrong.”

The bone-gnawing horror was first brought to the public attention on Friday, when Nong Khao Online News Facebook page posted a video of eight factory workers biting bones out of chicken skin, spitting them out, and placing the deboned feet in another sack or bucket.

Nonglak Payakprom at her factory in Nong Khai on Jan. 28, 2020.

Watcharapong Homwuttiwong, a dentist with the provincial health office, said using the mouth to bite off the flesh could result in transmitting bacteria from the respiratory and digestive systems by saliva as well as gum diseases, cavities, mumps, herpes, the flu, and so on.

“It could be fatal if inflammatory diseases such as Hepatitis A and B are transferred and spread to others,” Watcharapong said.

Factory owner Nonglak Payakprom said human mouths were more efficient than using tools.

“Before, we used pliers but no one wanted to buy them because the shape was all ruined,” Nonglak said. “In the five minutes it takes to remove the bones with pliers, you could bite the bones out from five feet.”

Nonglak’s chicken plant is currently closed to train workers to use tools instead, she said. Nonglak also invited the provincial governor and local media to see the workers removing bones and claws from chicken feet by hands, pliers, and knives in a demonstration at her factory today.