Hormel "disappointed" at animal cruelty at supplier farm

Hormel "disappointed" at animal cruelty at supplier farm

Hormel Foods has said it is "extremely disappointed and concerned" following the release of a video depicting animal cruelty at one of its supplier farms in the US.

The video follows an undercover investigator from campaign group Compassion Over Killing who was working at Quality Pork Processors, a slaughterhouse in Minnesota that supplies the Spam maker.

The facility, Compassion Over Killing says, is one of five in the US operating under a pilot programme set up by the US Department of Agriculture, known as HIMP, that allows for high-speed slaughter and reduced government oversight. The video shows animals being beaten, shocked, dragged and improperly stunned among other actions.

"By allowing facilities like QPP to operate at increased slaughter speeds combined with reduced oversight, the USDA is essentially giving the profit-driven pork industry a free pass to police itself. This is producing devastating consequences for animals, workers, and consumers," said a statement from Compassion Over Killing.

Hormel responded to the video in a statement on its website: "We are extremely disappointed and concerned to see the recently released undercover video detailing instances of aggressive animal handling and employee insensitivity at one of our supplier facilities. These actions do not reflect the values of Hormel Foods, its employees or its customers."

The company said it was placing humane handling officers at the facility to ensure compliance with Hormel Foods animal welfare standards. "Our supplier responsibility principles are clear as to our expectations of our suppliers, and the behaviour depicted in the undercover video is unacceptable. We are requiring this supplier to take the following actions immediately: further disciplinary action, additional animal welfare and handling training, enhanced compliance oversight, and increased third-party auditing."

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said it was reviewing the video "to verify its authenticity".

However, it added: "The actions depicted in the video under review are completely unacceptable, and if we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action. The actions depicted in the video occurred in area of the plant that is likely to have been out of the view of federal inspectors who were on duty at other locations in the plant, but had these actions been observed by the inspectors, they would have resulted in immediate regulatory action against the plant.

"USDA's authority to regulate the treatment of animals in this case is governed by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. This law protects animals when they are presented for slaughter at federally inspected establishments. All federally-inspected establishments must follow the same humane handling law whether the facility utilizes a HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project, also known as HIMP, or a non-HIMP system. Where HIMP and non-HIMP inspection differs is further down the production line in the area of carcass sorting, well after the area where the completely unacceptable actions depicted in the video occurred."