One of the tools in the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) arsenal against pork production is to file a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asserting deceptive advertising practices. Today, HSUS has implemented that tactic with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).   

HSUS has filed similar FTC complaints with the a few pork production companies in the past, such as Smithfield Foods and Seaboard Foods. In those cases, HSUS has claimed that by using gestation-sow stalls, for example, the companies’ actual animal care practices don’t align with their animal well-being claims.  

The HSUS complaint against NPPC alleges that the pork industry’s public descriptions of its “We Care Initiative” and “Pork Quality Assurance Plus” program are “riddled with false claims” regarding the welfare of pigs on farms today.

For example, it specifically focuses on PQA Plus program claim that it helps “ensure that all animals in the pork industry continue to receive humane care and handling.”

HSUS contends that by housing gestation sows in stalls and performing what producers call baby-pig processing and HSUS calls mutilations-- tail docking, castration, needle-teeth clipping—that “these abusive practices allowed by the We Care and PQA Plus programs are fundamentally inconsistent with NPPC’s public claims.” HSUS points to its undercover videos as documenting practices that most consumers do not consider humane.

NPPC officials indicate that they have not yet seen the complaint. The group’s statement emphasizes, “Once it actually is made public, we will vigorously defend against the absolutely false claims made by HSUS as set forth in a press release it issued today.”

NPPC’s response further states, “The FTC complaint is the latest attack by animal-rights activists on America’s hog farmers, an assault that seems obviously in response to the U.S. pork industry’s strident opposition to congressional legislation that would allow federal bureaucrats to tell farmers how to raise and care for their animals.”

NPPC officials saythey look forward to the FTC quickly dismissing HSUS’s complaint.

For its part, HSUS expects the complaint to prompt FTC to take action to stop NPPC “from deceiving consumers through its misleading animal care representations.”