HSUS releases undercover video, alleges abuse

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said it has released an undercover video depicting what it calls animal abuse at a Wyoming hog facility that it claims is a Tyson Foods Inc. supplier. However, Tyson denies that the farm is one of the company’s pork suppliers.

Meanwhile, the Center for Food Integrity is assembling a panel of animal welfare experts to review the video taken at Wyoming Premium Farms, Wheatland, Wyo., and determine if actual abuse occurred.

“Contrary to the impression left by HSUS, there is no connection between this Wyoming farm and the pork that we process,” Tyson said in an e-mailed statement. “Tyson Foods does not buy any of the hogs raised on this farm for our pork processing plants. 

“We do have a small, but separate hog buying business that buys aged sows; however, these animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson’s pork processing business,” the company said.

According to HSUS, the video depicts workers kicking piglets, swinging piglets by their hind legs and kicking and hitting sows.

“The investigator also found pigs with untreated abscesses and severe rectal and uterine prolapses; mummified piglet corpses; and baby piglets who had fallen through floor slats to either hang to death or drown in manure pits,” HSUS said in a written statement.

The organization said it notified local authorities with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am sickened and outraged by what I’ve seen, and any right-thinking person will have the same reaction,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of The HSUS. “The shocking abuse at this facility shows why so many Americans are calling for reforms in the pork industry.  It is also deeply disconcerting that Tyson and other companies are buying pork from this hellhole for pigs, and I hope those corporate relationships end tomorrow.

Pacelle also called on Tyson to “…make a commitment to ending the confinement of sows in gestation crates.”

Tyson said: “We’ve seen the video and we are appalled by the apparent mistreatment of the animals. We do not condone for any reason this kind of mistreatment of animals shown in the video.

“Virtually all of the hogs Tyson buys for our processing plants come from thousands of independent farm families who use both individual and group housing,” the company added. “We require all hog farmers who supply us to be certified in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which incorporates rigid animal well-being standards and is part of the industry’s ‘We Care’ responsible pork initiative. We validate enrollment and audit conformance to these standards. Farms that do not conform will be eliminated from our supply chain.”

The National Pork Producers Council also spoke out against inhumane treatment of animals.

"Providing humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life is one of the ethical principles to which US pork producers adhere," the council said in a statement on its website. "US pork producers are committed to caring for animals in a way that protects their well-being. Just as it is to others, mistreatment of animals is appalling to pork producers. We do not defend and will not accept mistreatment of animals.

"NPPC understands that the farm in question is taking immediate steps to address the situation, including an unannounced inspection of the facility by the farm’s consulting veterinarian," NPPC added. "Individuals responsible for willful abuse of animals must be held accountable."

Soon after HSUS’s announcement about the video, the Center for Food Integrity said its Animal Care Review Panel would analyze the video and try to release its findings to the food industry within 48 hours. The panelists are Dr. Temple Grandin, a faculty member in the animal sciences department at Colorado State Univ.; Dr. Candace Croney, associate  professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue Univ.; and Dr. John Deen, a veterinarian and professor at the Univ. of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

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