US - Compassion Over Killing (COK) has released undercover footage showing cruelty to pigs at a Minnesota slaughterhouse supplying to Hormel.
The footage taken at the USDA-inspected slaughterhouse, Quality Pork Processors (QPP), shows pigs being improperly stunned before entering the scalding tank and pigs being handled aggressively - including being beaten and dragged. The later was especially documented in pigs that were already sick or injured and therefore unable to walk.
The investigation also found the supervisor sleeping on the job when he should have been overseeing the stunning process and pigs that were covered in feces or pus-filled abscesses being slaughtered and processed for human consumption.
The Minnesota facility is one of five that are currently operating under a USDA pilot program (HIMP) that allows for high-speed slaughter alongside reduced government oversight.
A 2013 Office of Inspector General Audit Report has already identified several concerns about the HIMP pilot program, including food safety and humane animal handling and several USDA whistleblowers have also spoke out about the dangers of this high-speed, reduced-inspection program.
Despite HIMP been in place for over 10 years, the USDA yet to thoroughly review the program to determine its effectiveness. That announcement is expected in early 2016.
It seems the USDA is now reviewing the footage for authenticity.
A USDA comment on COK site stated: “The actions depicted in the video under review are appalling and completely unacceptable.”
Animal Welfare a Top Priority at Hormel
Hormel Foods has responded to the release of the footage saying it was deeply concerned and disappointed as it holds animal welfare, employee safety and food safety as it's top priorities.
The actions revealed in the footage do not reflect Hormel's, its employees, or its customers values, the company emphasised.
"Our Supplier Responsibility Principles are clear as to our expectations of our suppliers, and the behavior depicted in the undercover video is unacceptable," Hormel said in its statement.
Hormel noted that it is requiring the supplier to immediately take further disciplinary action, undertake additional animal welfare and handling training, apply enhanced compliance oversight, and increase third-party auditing.
In addition, the company is placing humane handling officers at the facility to ensure compliance with Hormel Foods animal welfare standards.
The Compassion Over Killing undercover footage can be viewed here.
Top image via Shutterstock