Walmart pork supplier targeted in undercover video
Animal rights group Mercy for Animals has released an undercover video at a Pipestone System pig farm in Pipestone, Minn. The video purports to show inhumane treatment to the animals, including piglets being slammed headfirst into the ground and having their testicles ripped out and tails cut off without painkillers, the organization reports. Mercy for Animals also highlights the facts that pregnant sows are kept in gestation crates.
The former employee also saw workers punching, beating, throwing and dropping pigs and piglets. The organization states that local law enforcement raided the farm and conducted an investigation. However, KTSP News, an ABC local affiliate, reports that no criminal charges were filed.
Pipestone System released a statement. The statement reads in part, "The Pipestone System does not condone any type of willful animal abuse. The Pipestone System immediately conducted an internal investigation of alleged mistreatment and discovered certain violations of its Animal Welfare Policy that resulted in the immediate termination of one employee. The Pipestone System also requested and underwent an immediate third party external audit of the operations at the farm. 'We remain absolutely committed to animal welfare and will continue to improve upon training and oversight everyday,' said Dr. Carissa Odland, Director of Animal Welfare for Pipestone System."
Walmart also issued a statement, saying, “We think the animal handling in this video is unacceptable. We are currently conducting our own review of the situation. For the past several months, we have been working on a new comprehensive auditing and tracking program for pork, which is scheduled to roll out in the coming weeks. The program is designed to track and source pork to help ensure that we purchase only from farms that are certified to meet the highest standards for the treatment of animals. We continue to work with the industry to develop animal welfare standards for pigs, and we expect our suppliers to adhere to these standards.”
Mercy for Animals called on Walmart to end the use of gestation crates. The retailer has not followed other large retailers and restaurant chains that have agreed to phase out the use of the crates.
"The hidden cost of Walmart's cheap pork is blatant animal abuse," said MFA's executive director, Nathan Runkle. "No animal should suffer a lifetime locked in a cage so small she can't even turn around or lie down comfortably. It's high time that Walmart took meaningful action to ensure that the animals raised and killed for its stores do not endure lives filled with pain and misery."
A statement from the National Pork producers Council pointed out that an independent veterinarian, who was taken by law enforcement officials to the Pipestone facility shown in the video, determined that there were no signs of inhumane treatment or violations of good production standards. Therefore, no charges were filed. NPPC also called Mercy for Animals a front group for the Humane Society of the United States.
“America’s pork producers are primarily family farmers who care about the animals they raise and the food they produce for the American consumer. It is the same food they produce for their own families. They don’t need questionable undercover videos produced by organizations with political agendas to remind them of their commitment to animal care,” NPPC said.
“This latest attack by HSUS and MFA clearly is the result of the pressure they’re feeling after a year of significant state and federal legislative losses. HSUS has spent significant amounts of its donors’ money on futile legislative efforts and on a lawsuit that had nothing to do with animal welfare that was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge. HSUS donors, especially the many whose priorities are the protection of companion animals, deserve better than that,” the organization added.
Sources: Mercy for Animals, KTSP News, NPPC