The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has accused Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pork producer, of inhumane treatment of pigs and piglets, releasing a video documenting what the group said were cruel practices.
The society said that it documented mistreatment of the animals after a month-long investigation at a Waverly, Virginia, facility owned by Smithfield subsidiary Murphy-Brown.
They said workers ignored growths and wounds on pigs, jabbed them with rods and flipped piglets through the air.
Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle said an investigator who worked at the breeding facility and produced the video believed that the practices were standard for the company. “It’s not just an issue of someone being lax at the facility,” he said.
Smithfield Foods chief sustainability officer Dennis Treacy said in a statement that the company had been alerted to improper behaviour by an employee hotline and had brought in animal welfare experts to assess the facility.
Pacelle also said the facility’s use of small pens known as “gestation crates” indicated that Smithfield was backing down from a 2007 pledge to phase out the crates.