A two-minute undercover video targeting Iowa Select Farms in Kamrar, IA and the retail outlets it supplies with pork products got some serious reaction after it was released Wednesday.
Iowa Select Farms, fourth largest pork producer in the United States, has retained Dr. Anna Johnson, associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University, to conduct an investigation into the farm’s animal handling.
Howard Hill, senior veterinarian for Iowa Select, says the pork producer has a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse. It has suspended at least one worker involved without play pending the outcome of Dr. Johnson’s investigation.
Iowa Select supplies pork to JBS Swift, which sells through such retailers as Costco, Hy-Vee, Kroger, and Safeway. Hy-Vee said it “will only do business with suppliers that are committed to the human treatment of animals.”
Chicago-based Mercy for Animals released the video taken by one of its operatives who reportedly hired on at Iowa Select Farms as an employee.
The short film alleged to show piglets being castrated and their tails removed without the benefit of anesthetics, intestinal ruptures apparently resulting form botched castrations, and workers throwing piglets across the room.
JBS issued a statement saying the company was shocked by the way piglets were being treated at Iowa Select Farms, and said it will ensure treatment in the future meets all National Port Board standards.
Safeway said it will “not tolerate animal abuse of any kind.”
Meatingplace, the industry news site, reported on industry speculation that the real target of the undercover video is the common use of gestation stalls, also known as crates.
Castration and docked tails, are done shortly after birth and there is no approved painkiller for the procedure. While not condoning tossing pigs about, the industry does defend the use of gestation stalls to protect piglets after birth from sows. Gestation crates are banned in seven states and Smithfield Foods is phasing them out of its operations nationwide.
In a letter Mercy for Animals sent to the retailers, the cruel acts shown in the video were being used as “leverage to ban gestation stalls,” National Pork Producers Council spokesman Dave Warner told Meatingplace.