This week, Hormel Foods Corp. found itself at the center of an undercover activist video alleging animal abuse at one of its Minnesota pork processors. The group Compassion Over Killing released the video Wednesday, which activists say shows workers at a Quality Pork Processors (QPP) plant beating, dragging and slitting the throats of live animals.
The North American Meat Institute’s panel of experts, which included Dr. Temple Grandin, analyzed the footage and contradicted the allegations. They found the animals appears “properly stunned” and “insensible to pain,” which is required by federal law.
“We saw no breathing, natural blinking or a righting reflex that would suggest anything other than an insensible animal,” the panel concluded in a news release here. “While the video’s creator highlighted one pig on a rail and said it was showing a “righting reflex,” the video was distant and blurry and the pig’s neck was obscured by a beam or piece of equipment so it would seem impossible for anyone to make a definitive determination based upon the clip provided.”
However, the panel did point to unacceptable rough handling and overcrowding. Hormel also acknowledged these concerns and addressed them prior to the video’s release.
According to Meatingplace, Nate Jensen, vice president of human resources and quality services at QPP said a worker at the pork supplier was written up for improper use of paddles on hogs “before we even knew the video existed.”
Jensen also noted that one of the Compassion Over Killing’s undercover members was shown slicing open a hog’s puss-filled abscess while on the line. A supervisor displaced the employee and others nearby at the time of the incident.
In a statement, Hormel reassured the public that its suppliers operate under “very visible condition,” which include third-party video monitoring. The USDA is also present during all its operations.
Reuters reports the USDA is in the process of reviewing the authenticity of the video footage and will take appropriate action if the film’s authenticity is verified.
The allegation come just months after another Minnesota-based company found itself in the activists’ lenses. Christensen Farms initially suspended seven employees in the wake of the allegations made at one of its sow facilities by the group Last Chance for Animals pending further investigation.
After completing its own internal investigation, the company terminated five employees and took disciplinary action against five additional employees for violating the company’s animal welfare policies.
Though activists in this case believed they had evidence of 18 incidents of animal cruelty and 17 cases of neglect, officials disagreed and instead reported the footage would not be admissible in court. See, “Christensen Farms avoid pig abuse charges”