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12 Nov, 2015 06:30

Undercover video shows pig maltreatment at major US pork supplier plant

Undercover video shows pig maltreatment at major US pork supplier plant

Pigs suffered abuse during multiple stages of production at a facility of one of the top suppliers of pork in the country, according to a hidden video captured by an undercover animal rights activist, who took a job at the meat processing plant.

According to the company’s website, Quality Pork Processors (QPP) provides more than half of the “fresh pork raw material needs” for Hormel, the maker of Spam and other pork products. Both companies are based in Austin, Minnesota, where harrowing footage was captured and edited by the Compassion Over Killing group and posted on YouTube.

"That one was definitely alive," a QPP employee is heard saying on the video, at the point in the process where the pigs, which by law must be made unable to feel pain, have their throats slit.

"If USDA is around, they could shut us down," an employee, whose face is blurred but appears to be the same person, also says.

On October 27, Compassion Over Killing, an organization advocating a vegetarian diet, handed over "many hours" of raw video to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as well as local authorities, then met with federal investigators, according to the Huffington Post.

"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 USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service spokesman Adam Tarr told the Washington Post.

Nate Jansen, QPP vice president of human resources and quality services, said in-house cameras caught two employees violating humane and safety policies, resulting in two employees being disciplined, the Huffington Post reported.

"If you look at them as a full sequence, with the handling, you will see those animals were handled according to acceptable regulations and policies and our own internal procedures," Jansen said. "I've got complete trust in the foods that we produce."

QPP is part of the USDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), a program to create a "flexible, more efficient, fully integrated" system of meat processing. Compassion Over Killing claims this induces more inhumane treatment, because workers take “inhumane shortcuts” in the sped-up routine, which isn’t always overseen by USDA officials. HIMP generally places its supervisors at later stages of the cycle.

The USDA says HIMP and non-HIMP alike have the same standards of care for animals, and that the video doesn’t show anything that differentiates between HIMP or non-HIMP practices, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune.

Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, told the Huffington Post their investigator had the job at QPP for several months, but had only worked in the pig processing area for the last three weeks.