So Much for 'Responsibility': Smithfield, Leading U.S. Pork Producer, Allegedly Abusing Animals

By Daniel Fromson
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"When it comes to animal welfare policies and processes, count on us to lead the way," reads the "Responsibility" section on the website of Smithfield Foods, the Virginia-based pork operation that is the largest in the world. But if a new sting operation by the Humane Society of the United States is at all representative of companywide conditions, the leader isn't doing so hot. Here's New York magazine's Grub Street blog with details:

Yesterday, the Humane Society released a video and report that it says are the results of an undercover investigation into a Virginia breeding facility operated by a subsidiary of Smithfield foods. As you would expect, the evidence they present is pretty grim: Piglets tossed into dumpsters, employees jabbing at a lame sow to get her to move, and pigs developing open pressure sores as a result of being "crammed" (as the report says) into gestation crates, tiny holding pens that restrict the pregnant pigs' movement to almost nothing. Obviously, if the allegations are true, they fly in the face of Smithfield's corporate image: The company's slogan is "Good Food. Responsibly," and they tout an "industry-leading animal welfare management program" on their website. (They also say they've begun the process of phasing out the gestation crates.)

Complaints against the company are nothing new, but the report does put a renewed focus on them. Mark Bittman, who linked to the video on his site (and who recently told Bon App├ętit all about his "vegan until six" diet), called for a boycott on all Smithfield products and reiterated the point that people should just avoid factory-raised meat altogether.

Read the full story at Grub Street.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/12/so-much-for-responsibility-smithfield-leading-us-pork-producer-allegedly-abusing-animals/68188/