Secret video footage of a hog farm in Manitoba, Canada show workers body-slamming piglets into the floor, swinging them into metal posts and kicking them when they can’t stand up. The harrowing video was filmed by an investigator for animal rights group Mercy for Animals Canada, who went undercover at the Puratone farm for three months. Mercy for Animals Canada — a sister organization of the U.S. group by the same name — released the footage Monday, calling for major grocery chains that carry Puratone meat to boycott the pork producer.
As Manitoba officials prepare to inspect and possibly investigate the Puratone facility, however, an “Animal Care Review” panel has dismissed this type of abuse as a standard, “humane” practice. This panel of researchers and scientists was put together by the Center for Food Integrity, an American organization funded by agribusiness giants including Monsanto, the National Pork Producers Council, Pfizer, Cargill and Purdue. The Vancouver Sun reports:
But the Animal Care Review Panel, made up of a University of Manitoba animal sciences professor, an Ontario Veterinary College professor and a research scientist, says [body-slamming piglets is] a humane way to euthanize piglets.
The panel, formed by the Center for Food Integrity, a U.S.-based organization representing farmers, food processors and retailers, said most of what’s in the video is widely acceptable and humane. [...] The footage appears to show pigs bleeding from open wounds in tight metal cages, pregnant pigs with distended, inflamed bellies, and piglets being slammed down on the floor by staff.
Watch it (warning — contains very graphic images):
The Center for Food Integrity is in fact an industry public relations group intended to “build consumer trust and confidence in the contemporary U.S. food system by sharing accurate, balanced information, correcting misinformation, modeling best practices and engaging stakeholders to address issues that are important to consumers.” In a recent example of this “accurate, balanced information,” CFI encourages companies to justify factory farms, where overcrowding and confinement in filthy quarters often breeds disease, by telling consumers that “indoor housing systems protect food animals from bad weather and predators.”
CFI essentially exists to clean up PR messes for Big Ag. In February, an American animal rights group released an undercover video of an Iowa hog farm showing immobilized pigs in tiny crates caked with feces, workers pushing herniated intestines back inside a piglet, and other pigs being fed the intestines from dead pigs. CFI quickly convened a panel to explain the video showed “normally accepted production practices and nothing that could be considered abusive.”
Indeed, these abusive practices do seem to be standard across the industry; in July, yet another undercover video was released by Mercy for Animals at a hog farm in Minnesota documenting the same tiny “gestation” crates found at the Canadian facility. CFI’s panels try to convince consumers that “standard” practice are the same as “humane” practices.
Rather than put effort into reforming systematic cruelty, Big Ag companies prefer to invest in bending the law to suit them. Five states have passed so-called “ag-gag” laws, which criminalize undercover investigations and secret footage inside these facilities. These laws’ sole purpose is to keep consumers from discovering the conditions in which their food is produced.