Another case of cruelty struck this month at the hands of the world’s largest pork producers, Smithfield Foods.
A recent undercover investigation performed by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) revealed the unacceptable and systemic abuse by Smithfield-owned facility in Waverly, Va.
According to an investigator who spent a month working at the factory, the following horrendous conditions were found:
- Female breeding pigs were crammed inside "gestation crates" so small the animals could barely move for virtually their entire lives. The animals engaged in stereotypic behaviors such as biting the bars of crates, indicating poor well-being in the extreme confinement conditions. Some had bitten their bars so incessantly that blood from their mouths coated the fronts of their crates. The breeding pigs also suffered injuries from sharp crate protrusions and open pressure sores that developed from their unyielding confinement.
- The investigator never saw a veterinarian at the operation. A barn manager told the investigator to ignore a pig with a basketball-sized abscess on her neck, and then cut the abscess open with an unsterilized razor.
- Employees jabbed a lame pig's neck and back with gate rods to force her to move.
- Three times, the investigator informed employees that a pig was thrown into a dumpster alive. The animal had been shot in the forehead with a captive bolt gun, which is designed to render an animal unconscious, and was thrown in the dumpster still alive and breathing.
- Employees mishandled piglets and tossed them into carts.
- Some piglets prematurely born in gestation crates fell through the slats into the manure pits.
"If this is the best that Smithfield can do, it is evident that there are terrible problems in the nation's pig industry," stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "It is indefensible for Smithfield to allow its sows to linger in crates barely larger than their bodies for months on end."
Ironically, in 2007 Smithfield Foods pledged to phase out the use of gestation crates within 10 years, but in June 2009, the company backtracked on its own timeline.
"Now that Smithfield just posted its highest-ever quarterly profit, it's a good time to make a public pledge to honor its previous commitment," added Pacelle. "The company can no longer claim that economic circumstances don't allow for facility improvements."
Other large pork producers, such as Maxwell Foods, are already gestation crate-free, while Cargill is 50 percent gestation crate-free.
This latest report comes in the wake of HSUS investigations last month into Cal-Maine Foods, the country's largest egg producer, and Willmar Poultry, the nation's top turkey hatchery.
To watch the undercover video visit humanesociety.org.
Photo credit: HSUS