Video reveals 'completely unacceptable' treatment of pigs by Hormel supplier

A video released Wednesday shows scenes of pig mistreatment at a Hormel pork plant in Minnesota. 

Courtesy: Compassion over Killing/YouTube
A screen shot from a video documenting alleged animal abuse at Quality Pork processing plant in Austin, Minn.

A graphic video released Wednesday purports to show the mistreatment of pigs at Quality Pork in Austin, Minnesota, a pork supplier to Hormel Foods.

Animal rights group Compassion over Killing, who released the video, say it shows slaughter scenes during which still-conscious pigs are dragged, paddled, and sliced open.

A link to the video [Warning: Some readers may find this video disturbing.] is here.

Federal law requires that livestock be unconscious before killing. Additionally, in order to get a federal seal of inspection, all meat plants in the United States must have US Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff on site.

Though USDA officials would have been on site at the time the video was taken, the agency maintains the actions in the video would have been grounds for “immediate regulatory action,” had the inspectors witnessed signs of animal abuse.

The agency claims that the actions must have taken place in a separate location, away from the federal inspectors. USDA is currently investigating all 97 minutes of video footage.  

“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,” USDA spokesman Adam Tarr said.

Quality Pork disputes the allegations. After watching the footage, the company said they only saw one instance of abuse.

“We were disappointed to see that it appears an employee may not have followed company policy,” said Nate Jansen, the company’s vice president of human resources, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Jansen says the company was aware of the mistreatment before the investigation, and argues that the edited video “fails to tell the whole story.”

In a statement to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a spokesperson for Hormel said, “We have a zero-tolerance policy for the inhumane treatment of animals.” The company says it is working closely with Quality Pork and the USDA to take “any necessary corrective action.”

This isn’t the first undercover exposé by an animal rights group. Just last month, Mercy for Animals released undercover videos shot at Tyson Foods chicken plants in both Mississippi and Tennessee that showed workers violently abusing live birds.

The videos led to 33 counts of criminal cruelty to animals charges for Tyson Foods and several workers.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.