QPP in animal welfare controversy

by Erica Shaffer
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AUSTIN, Minn. – An animal welfare group released an undercover video that depicts acts of abuse against pigs at Quality Pork Processors (QPP), a third-party pork supplier to Hormel Foods Corp.

A Compassion Over Killing investigator took the video which the group has called “High-Speed Slaughter Hell at Hormel” in reference to QPP’s participation in the federal HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) for swine. Compassion Over Killing blames higher line speeds for prompting animal abuse.

“This facility is one of five in the US operating under a USDA pilot program, known as “HIMP”, that allows for high-speed slaughter and reduced government oversight,” the group says on its website. “That means this facility operates at faster line speeds than almost any other facility in the US: approximately 1,300 pigs are killed each hour, their meat to be sold as SPAM or other Hormel pork products.

“The excessive slaughter line speed forces workers to take inhumane shortcuts that lead to extreme suffering for millions of pigs. It also jeopardizes food safety for consumers.”

In a statement, Hormel said it is working with QPP to address concerns about animal welfare conditions at the processing facility.

“Routine audits are conducted at all facilities, and we hire third-party auditors to ensure the highest animal care procedures are followed,” the company said. “Food safety is the No. 1 priority at Hormel Foods. USDA and company inspectors are on-site to inspect all animals entering the facility and throughout the entire process, to ensure that sick or diseased animals do not enter the food chain.

“Our suppliers operate under very visible conditions, including third-party video monitoring and the USDA is present during all operations,” the company added. “We have reviewed the edited three-minute video that was posted online earlier today and are working closely with QPP, the owner and operator of the facility featured in the video, as well as USDA, regarding our concerns, and will work with them to take any necessary corrective action.”

The company emphasized its “zero-tolerance policy for inhumane treatment of animals,” and referred to Hormel’s Supplier Responsibility Principles

This isn’t the first time animal welfare interests have criticized QPP’s participation in the HIMP pilot project. In February, the Food Integrity Campaign alleged inspections under HIMP are inadequate. The group posted online affidavits from four hog inspectors from the US Department of Agriculture that cited lack of training, improper oversight and faster line speeds as problems affecting the HIMP swine pilot program.

In other Hormel Foods news, the company reached a new labor agreement with members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union.

“Hormel Foods is pleased to have reached an agreement with our employees on a new 4-year contract,” Larry C. Lyons, senior vice president of human resources at Hormel Foods, said in a statement. “We are appreciative of the hard work by both bargaining teams to reach this mutually agreeable contract.”
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