Wednesday, the non-profit animal welfare group Compassion Over Killing released undercover footage showing the inhumane treatment of pigs at a slaughterhouse in Austin, MN.
The footage was obtained over a five month period by an undercover investigator working at Quality Pork Processors (QPP), a supplier to Hormel. The graphic footage shows sick and injured pigs being dragged to their deaths, pigs being beaten, stunned improperly and killed while still alert. It also shows workers behaving inappropriately by throwing bloody paper towels at each other, cheering when a pig was stunned incorrectly and a supervisor sleeping on his feet.
The complete video was turned over to the USDA on Wednesday. After viewing the footage, USDA Spokesman Adam Tarr commented,
“The actions depicted in the video under review are completely unacceptable, and if we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action.”
Hormel released a statement in response to the video earlier today,
“Hormel Foods is committed to animal care and has high standards and policies with our suppliers. We have a zero tolerance policy for the inhumane treatment of animals, and we remain dedicated to the highest standards for animal care and handling.”
The company also added,
“Our suppliers operate under very visible conditions, including third-party video monitoring and the USDA is present during all operations. After reviewing the edited video, we are conducting a review of processes and procedures with QPP and will ensure appropriate actions are taken.”
The footage raises many questions about the viability of a USDA pilot program that Quality Pork Products is involved with. QPP is one of five facilities participating in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Models Project, or HIMP. The aim of the program is produce “a flexible, more efficient, fully integrated meat and poultry inspection system.” The system is designed to put more responsibility on the individual facilities so that USDA agents can focus their efforts on food safety. Compassion Over Killing argues that the system allows for high speed slaughter and reduced government oversight.
Compassion Over Killing is urging the public to consider a meat free diet and to sign a petition asking Hormel not to support the USDA’s HIMP Program.