Seaboard acts on animal abuse claims

by Erica Shaffer
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PHILLIPS COUNTY, Colo. – An investigation is underway at a pork processing plant owned by Seaboard Foods after local law enforcement notified the company about incidents of animal abuse at the facility.

“When made aware of these claims, Seaboard Foods senior level management immediately initiated an internal investigation, and based on our findings and zero-tolerance policy for improper animal handling, five employees, as well as two management supervisors, have been terminated,” the company said in a statement.

Mercy For Animals, a national animal welfare group, released the video which depicts workers punching and hitting pigs with boards and cans. The organization notified the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office about the incidents. Footage also was supplied to Seaboard Foods.

“In the limited undercover video made available to us, we identified instances that depict improper handling while loading pigs on trucks, which does not adhere to Seaboard Foods’ training and best practices for moving pigs and ensuring they are comfortable and healthy so we can deliver safe, nutritious and delicious pork to our customers,” the company said. “As seen in the undercover video, the handling is unacceptable and inexcusable.”

MFA said the company is a major supplier of pork to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The group called on retail giant to adopt new animal welfare requirements for Seaboard Foods and other pork suppliers. For its part, Seaboard said the company's animal welfare program, protocols and training are subject to independent audits by Farm Animal Care Training and Auditing, LLC (FACTA).

“We are disappointed the organization that made the complaint and took the undercover video, which purports to be concerned about animal welfare, did not report the allegations to us directly through our toll-free hotline as is required by any employee, especially after acknowledging Seaboard Foods’ comprehensive animal care program and commitment to the proper and humane treatment of animals and our zero-tolerance policy in the complaint to the Sheriff’s Office,” the company said.
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