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.