A disturbing undercover video surfaced recently showing farm workers, with their faces blurred out, viciously kicking, hitting, roughly hogtying, and otherwise mistreating a barn full of pigs. The graphic footage was published by Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit animal abuse whistleblowing organization, and was tied to a farm operated by the Kansas-based Seaboard Foods, the second-largest pork distributor in America and a distributor for Walmart and other major retailers.
In response to animal cruelty allegations, Seaboard launched its own investigation and fired seven workers, according to the Kansas City Star. No criminal charges are currently being filed. After showing the disturbing footage to board members, the company called the practices “unacceptable and inexcusable,” although representatives stated that they were disappointed that Mercy for Animals decided to go public with the video before reporting the abuse to Seaboard’s hotline.
“In the limited undercover video made available to us, we identified instances that depict improper handling while loading pigs on trucks,” the company said in a statement, “which does not adhere to Seaboard Foods’ training and best practices for moving pigs and ensuring they are comfortable and healthy so we can deliver safe, nutritious and delicious pork to our customers. As seen in the undercover video, the handling is unacceptable and inexcusable.”
This is not the first time that Seaboard has gotten in trouble for animal mistreatment. In 2012, the Humane Society filed complaints in response to a similar video showing animal abuse. In response, Seaboard defended its policies as “industry standard.”
“Industry standard” is also a term used by Walmart to describe their compliance with their own animal cruelty-prevention standards. Although Walmart refused to go into specifics about their animal welfare policies, Walmart representative John Forrest Ales did say, “We don’t tolerate the mistreatment of animals and appreciate Seaboard’s farms moving quickly to address this incident. Our policy requires our suppliers to source only from farms that adhere to industry standards of treatment of animals. We take the industry standards and put them into practice.” According to Mercy for Animals, this is the third time Walmart has been in the spotlight for animal mistreatment.