SMITHFIELD, VA. ? In response to a less-than-flattering portrayal of Smithfield Foods in the movie, “Food Inc.” the company issued a statement highlighting its commitment to producing safe food in a responsible manner. “We all agree with the concept that everyone deserves to have a wide range of choices in the food they eat, or don’t eat. However, we don’t agree with the misinformation passed off as fact in the movie ‘Food, Inc.,’” the statement said.

“Food Inc. is filled with harmful myths about the U.S. food industry and Smithfield Foods,” the statement said. “In particular, the movie’s misinformation is directed at how Smithfield Foods treats its employees and its animals.”

The statement continued that Smithfield’s employees are the company’s greatest asset. “We are committed to protecting their health and safety, and treating them fairly and ethically,” Smithfield added. “All of our employees have the opportunity to further their education and advance within the company.”

Smithfield continued that it historically has enjoyed good relations with the unions that represent its employees. “Today, about 50% of our U.S. employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements, and last year our Tar Heel plant employees voted in favor of union representation in a secret ballot election,” Smithfield said.

The statement added Smithfield does everything possible to ensure the integrity of its work force and it makes a good-faith effort to verify that a person’s documents are legitimate and that they are the person they claim to be. “We comply with all federal immigration laws and federal agencies in their pursuit of identity thieves,” Smithfield said.

Smithfield listed three goals regarding the welfare of its animals. “We want them to be safe, comfortable and healthy,” the company said. “We believe we have a moral obligation to protect and promote the well-being of our animals. And that commitment, in turn, promotes the production of safe food.

“Our commitment is more than just nice words,” Smithfield continued. “We have a sophisticated animal-welfare system in place on our farms that contains strict policies and procedures to ensure the proper handling of our animals. It’s a system that has earned high praise from nationally recognized animal welfare experts.”