Undercover video targets inhumane practices at Iowa pork producer
Included in the video is evidence of gestation crates, which are being phased out in California but are used elsewhere. The activist also taped instances of what she called “standard practices” at the farm, including workers clipping piglets’ tails and performing castrations with no pain killers. Some botched castrations resulted in the intestines falling out of the piglets bodies, and some were left to die on the floor, she reports.
Other activities include the practice of tossing piglets that were being sent to tail docking or castration, and an employee who instructed workers to kill the sickest piglets by smacking them on the concrete floor.
Response from the industry has been swift. Costco, which buys pork produced at the farm, told ABC News affiliate KGO in San Francisco that the company’s auditors will be inspecting the farm’s operations in light of the video.
"I think the animal handling practices that we saw, they need to be addressed very quickly because they're terrible," Costco Quality Assurance Vice President Craig Wilson said.
Safeway, which also bought products from Iowa Select Farms, issued a statement that read, “Safeway does not tolerate animal abuse of any kind and finds the images and animal handling practices contained in the Mercy for Animals video to be extremely disturbing and in violation of our animal welfare policies. We have halted purchases from JBS Swift (Swift Pork Co.) while a thorough investigation is conducted into the operations of Swift’s supplier, Iowa Select Farms.”
JBS USA, issued a statement that read: “We at JBS are shocked and disturbed by the video recently filmed by Mercy for Animals at a hog farm, and we are taking action with our hog-producer community to ensure that treatment that is inconsistent with National Pork Board standards is addressed immediately.
“JBS is dedicated to responsible animal agriculture and does not condone or tolerate animal cruelty. In our commitment to continuous improvement in all our practices, we insist on high standards for our hog suppliers, and we require them to participate in the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program (PQA Plus), a system of standards, education and training aimed at assuring animal well-being in addition to food safety.
“At JBS, we consult with top university animal welfare experts and will continue to work with them to verify that appropriate practices and procedures are in place. We will require that all purchases be contingent on our suppliers’ ability to verify that their animal handling practices are responsible and humane, and we will not purchase animals originating from the facility in this video until we have third-party verification of their compliance with requirements for proper animal handling.”
Iowa Select Farms released a statement that read in part: “In response to an undercover video released today by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals, Iowa Select Farms executive Dr. Howard Hill said, "A small portion of the video shows animal handling practices that are not acceptable under Iowa Select's long-standing animal welfare policies and with training that each employee is provided as a condition to being employed."
"We have already initiated an investigation into the portions of the video that show unacceptable animal handling by a few employees," said Hill. Once the preliminary investigation is completed, Hill said, "We have retained Dr. Anna Johnson, Animal Behavior and Well-being Researcher at Iowa State University to provide additional consultation to deal with specific actions depicted in the video that do not reflect Iowa Select's commitment to animal welfare and continuous improvement. If this independent review determines that we can make improvement to our animal welfare program and training, we will make such improvements."
In addition, if a determination is made that any employee of the company engaged in activities contrary to the policies they agreed to follow, Hill said, "We will take disciplinary action as appropriate, including termination of employment, as is provided in our animal welfare policy. This has been done before when a violation of our policies has been identified."
Source: ABC News, KGO News, JBS, Safeway