A Hormel supplier is being investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), following a video showing gruesome animal abuse at one of its slaughterhouses.
The footage, whose duration is of 3:41 minutes, has been made public on Wednesday, November 11, by Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit animal protection organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. There is also a longer, unedited version, lasting several hours, which has been filed with the USDA at the end of October.
According to representatives of the activist group, the atrocious acts shown in the video have been filmed a few months ago by one of its employees, working undercover, at a Quality Pork Processors (QPP) factory located in Austin, Minnesota, just where Hormel is also based.
It can be clearly seen in the images how defenseless live animals stuffed together in crowded spaces are being beaten, dragged across the killing floor and slayed violently by throat slitting.
The hogs are covered in feces and sores, and the footage shows them as they are carelessly thrown on conveyor belts, while workers happily hurl towels soaked in blood at one another.
One of the employees is also heard commenting that one of the hogs on the conveyors is actually still alive, and that if USDA knew about this it would close down the factory.
This is all in gross breach of federal legislation, which clearly specifies that pigs must be rendered unconscious before being slaughtered, so that they don’t experience any pain or distress.
The QPP plant is one of 5 locations where a trial project called HACCP-Based Inspection Models is being conducted, in order to reduce costs and increase the speed of operations, while being under less extensive supervision from government authorities.
However, animal welfare groups argue that if inspections had continued on a regular basis in all the sections of the processing factory, such abuse wouldn’t have occurred, or at least might’ve been identified much earlier.
Hormel Foods, the popular food company which produces canned precooked meat products known as SPAM, has been relying on the controversial slaughterhouse for half of its raw pork supply.
Approximately 19,000 hogs are processed on a daily basis at the facility, and they are used exclusively by Hormel, whose food brands also include Farmer John meats, Cure 81 hams, Lloyd’s Barbecue, Black Label bacon, Applegate Natural & Organic meats, Saag’s sausages and Natural Choice meats.
For now, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) aims to test the authenticity of the video, and if the images are proven real, immediate action will be taken against the factory.
Nate Jansen, human resources vice president for QPP, has responded to the accusations by simply saying that the company has always been preoccupied with ensuring humane treatment for their livestock by video monitoring the killing floor 24/7, and that these transgressions are mere one-off exceptions from normally strict procedures.
One of the workers, who had been filmed removing a pig’s abscess, which suggests that pork meat might have been contaminated, was punished by being given a verbal warning. Another employee had to undergo retraining and was given a written warning after repeatedly hitting a hog with a paddle in order to make it return to its designate place.
Meanwhile, Hormel representatives have declared that they would be collaborating with authorities in order to take whichever measures are required.
It must be noted that U.S. meat producers have been trying for several years now to convince lawmakers to prohibit unauthorized filming, which might result in an inaccurate representation of their practices.
However, it’s not the first time that animal rights advocates have exposed cruel treatment of livestock at processing plants and ranches.
For example, Mercy For Animals revealed in August that, at a farm which had been supplying Tyson Foods and McDonald’s, poultry was being killed by being stabbed and beaten using spiked clubs.
Image Source: Cok.net