Three Sacked over Animal Abuse Allegations

US - Smithfield Foods has sacked two employees and their supervisor for violating Smithfield Animal Welfare policies.
calendar icon 22 December 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

A statement from Smithfield Foods states: "At Smithfield Foods, our number one priorities are food safety, along with the care and safety of our employees and our animals. We have a long history of leading the industry with innovative programs to demonstrate that leadership.

"On 15 December, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a hidden video that showed alleged instances of animal abuse at a Smithfield facility in Waverly, Virginia. Our company's well-defined animal welfare policy and procedures had already been in action for several days after we had heard of a possible incident through our Employee Hotline.

"Renowned animal welfare expert, Dr Temple Grandin, is assessing the HSUS videos and allegations. She will also recommend any needed policy and procedure changes. At Dr Grandin's direction, Jennifer Woods, a noted expert in animal welfare and handling, is on-site at the facility in question to conduct an independent investigation.

"To date, HSUS has refused to provide our investigators with a full copy of the hidden video footage. Doing so would greatly help our investigation to ensure that our animals are treated humanely.

"In addition, Dr Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian and Director, Division of Animal and Food Industry Services, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is participating in the investigation on the condition of female breeding pigs held in gestation crates at the Waverly facility.

"We provide regular training to our employees on our animal welfare policies and procedures, and we have zero tolerance for any behavior that does not conform to our established animal well-being procedures. We will publicly release the findings of the investigation as soon as it is concluded.

"Contrary to repeated statements from HSUS, Smithfield Foods is continuing its efforts to eliminate gestation stalls from our sow farms. We maintained that commitment, even through the recent recession, by continuing the engineering and planning processes. As noted in our shareholder's meeting on September 1, 2010, we have restarted the capital investment and are actively in the process of converting a number of our company sow farms from individual gestation stalls to group housing arrangements for pregnant sows."

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