CHICAGO – The Maschhoffs and Hormel Foods Corp. have launched investigations into allegations of animal cruelty at a sow farm in Oklahoma. The move came after an animal welfare group released undercover video taken at a swine farm operated by The Maschhoffs, one of the largest pork producers in the United States, and a Hormel pork supplier.
“We have launched a full-scale investigation in response to this video,” Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs, said in a statement. “Any animal care deficiencies discovered will be addressed in the quickest manner possible.”
Additional actions taken by the company as a result of its initial investigation include:
• Communication of The Maschhoffs zero tolerance animal care policy with all employees and Production Partners.
• Re-training of all Oklahoma employees on the proper production procedures with respect to the practices that were displayed in the video.
• Ensuring every farm manager at The Maschhoffs reviews the video and fully understands the responsibility that comes with proper animal care.
“We view animal care as a continuous-improvement process,” Wolter said. “We will continue to make investments to further our animal care standards in the future. Properly caring for our animals is of the utmost importance.”
Hormel Foods Corp. said it is sending third-party auditors to pork suppliers in Oklahoma to verify the company’s animal care requirements are being met. The move came after an animal welfare group released undercover video taken at swine farms operated by The Maschhoffs, one of the largest pork producers in the United States, and a Hormel pork supplier.
“Today, Hormel Foods was made aware of an undercover video taken at a Maschhoffs farm,” the company said in a statement. “This farm is a supplier to numerous large food companies, including Hormel Foods. Animal stewardship, including the care and humane treatment of animals, is one of our most important values. Hormel Foods has a strict supplier code of conduct and policies relating to animal care and welfare. We will not tolerate any violation of these policies. As such, we have issued a suspension of all the Maschhoffs, LLC Oklahoma sow operations while a thorough investigation is completed.”
The group Mercy For Animals alleges that workers abused piglets by castration and tail docking without pain relief. The group also took issue with the use of gestation crates at the farm. “Mercy For Animals is calling on Hormel to immediately adopt meaningful animal welfare requirements to prevent egregious animal abuse throughout the company’s entire supply chain, including installing live-stream cameras to deter abuse; prohibiting the extreme confinement of pigs in inherently cruel gestation and farrowing crates; and ending painful and unnecessary mutilations, such as castration and tail docking, without pain relief,” the group said in a statement.
Hormel said the company would complete its conversion from gestation crates to group sow housing within the next 30 days. The company pledged to phase out gestation crates at company owned farms by 2018.
“In addition, a key part of our Animal Welfare Advisory Council’s charter is to understand and recommend animal welfare procedures and practices that are in the best interest of the animals,” the company said. “This group will continue to look closely at all industry practices for opportunities for continuous improvement. We have a shared goal in this regard.”