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Animal Legal Defense Fund recently submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) opposing the agency’s plan to speed up pig slaughtering — an already alarmingly fast process, at an average of 16 pigs per minute — and turn over critical food safety inspection duties from agency inspectors to self-interested and industry trained slaughter plant workers. USDA’s proposed “Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection” rule would expand a failed and unlawful pilot program, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), to pig slaughterhouses nationwide, creating the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System. While the largest meat companies stand to profit from this privatized, speeded-up pig slaughter, animals, consumers, and slaughterhouse workers will pay a steep price.

Abusive, Painful Slaughter of Pigs

Despite a broad outcry — from the agency’s own Office of Inspector General and its front-line inspectors in HIMP slaughter plants, to a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, and the general public — USDA appears poised to remake pig slaughter in the image of Hormel Foods. As the example of HIMP plant Quality Pork Processors, Inc. (QPP) makes clear, this would mean abuse, terror, and painful slaughter for many thousands of pigs across the country. QPP supplies meat exclusively for Hormel Foods and slaughters a whopping 1,295 pigs per hour, or one pig every three seconds. A 2015 undercover investigation of QPP revealed plant employees, under pressure to keep up with the facility’s high slaughtering speeds, illegally dragging, kicking, beating, and excessively shocking pigs with electric prods. Disabled “downer” hogs who were too sick or injured to move were abused as slaughterhouse workers tried to force them to the kill floor. The QPP investigation also documented numerous instances of improper stunning of pigs — another serious violation of federal law. A QPP supervisor who was supposed to be overseeing the required stunning of pigs was filmed literally sleeping on the job. Does this facility sound like a model for the nation?

Playing Russian Roulette with Food Safety

As if this weren’t bad enough, implementing the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System nationwide also carries dire consequences for food safety. In the words of one HIMP plant inspector, “[f]ood safety has gone down the drain under HIMP.” Poorly-trained plant employees have been enlisted as on-line sorters, replacing FSIS inspectors with expertise in pathology and decades of experience in inspection — while slaughter speed increases dramatically. Reprimanded and threatened with termination for performing inspection duties too rigorously, company sorters have every incentive to ignore violations. As large pig carcasses speed by, employees miss or ignore dangerous and unsanitary contaminants, defects, and diseases — fecal matter, bile, grease, hair, toenails, cystic kidneys, bladder stems, abscesses, lesions, diamond skin, and more — allowing sullied pigs to proceed down the slaughter line to be processed into food. FSIS inspectors similarly face pressure not to stop the slaughter line to remove carcasses with contaminants, experiencing threats and retaliation both from the company and their own agency superiors.

This toxic formula has wrought dismal results. As the USDA’s own watchdog sub-agency reported, of the top 10 pig slaughter plants nationally racking up the most food safety citations in a three-year period, three were HIMP plants, and by far the most-cited plant in the country during that period — with nearly 50 percent more citations than the slaughterhouse with the next highest number — was a HIMP plant. FSIS’s own HIMP plant inspectors were so alarmed by the pilot program — and by their leadership’s repeated failure to heed warnings — that they became whistleblowers. Citing abysmal results for food safety, slaughter plant workers, and the welfare of animals, a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress further warned FSIS not to proceed with HIMP, while over a quarter million people signed a petition opposing the plan. FSIS should heed this chorus of well-placed criticism, and discard the new pig slaughter program as a failed and unlawful experiment.

Hormel Under Fire

While the QPP investigation revealed Hormel’s pig slaughter failings, the Animal Legal Defense Fund also gained a shocking first-hand view into Hormel’s mistreatment of pigs in its care when we obtained undercover footage from a pig breeding facility operated by The Maschhoffs, LLC, which sources pigs to Hormel. The investigator documented pigs suffering for weeks with prolapsed rectums, gaping open wounds, and bloody cysts among other illnesses. Pigs deprived of food for long periods of time became agitated and injured themselves. We called on Hormel to clean up its supply chain and protect pigs from these heinous abuses.

And in 2016, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Hormel Foods, alleging the company is misleading consumers by advertising its Natural Choice®-brand deli meat and bacon products as “natural,” “clean,” “honest,” and “wholesome,” when in reality they are sourced from industrial, pharmaceutical-using factory farms and inhumane, unsanitary slaughter facilities like QPP. Through its “Make the Natural Choice” advertising campaign, Hormel paints a picture of sustainably-sourced, ethically-raised products that we allege bears little resemblance to its true practices and dupes consumers into believing they are buying something they’re not. Learn more about the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit against Hormel.

Take Action

The USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed pig slaughter plan until May 2, 2018. Make your voice heard and tell them to ditch this dangerous and inhumane proposal.

Image Source: ALDF

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0 comments on “Why It Is Crucial We Stop Cruel High-Speed Pig Slaughter – and How You Can Help!”

Click to add comment
Christine Stewart
6 Months Ago

PLEASE stop eating pork! Many people will sign petitions against the slaughter of dogs for the dog-meat trade in Asia, but will continue to eat ham and bacon!? Pigs are just as intelligent as dogs, and suffer terribly during all facets of factory farming- tail docking and castration with no anesthesia; living in cramped/filthy concrete runs; crammed into a transport truck with no water; and finally a terrifying journey through the slaughterhouse- getting shocked and finally electrocuted into unconsciousness; dangling from the hind legs so the throat can be slit; hopefully bleeding to death before the plunge into the scalding tank...

Nancy C Medved
21 Jul 2018

Its great to have people like you to stand up against cruelty to animals. I have been with the humane society for over 40 years, donating, and adopting from shelters myself. After 40 years of tears, and donations, this still goes on, WHY?
because the laws arent stiff enough for the abusers.
They have to make people be disgusted with eating meat? Get some new stuff on market, that tastes good, natural, and cost less, and people will switch no? Keep up the good work by protesting, we all should!!

Ruth Eisenbud
6 Months Ago

Religion should not encourage violence, to animals or to humans. The semitic religions, for whatever reasons, do encourage the worst in human nature by legitimizing slaughter. We cannot absolve these religions as the product of human greed.... These religions must be held accountable for the destruction they invoked.

Religion that leads man to a more enlightened level, such as the Jain religion, seeks to encourage non-violence to all living beings. As such it elevates man... and does not lead to the cruel destruction of so man lives: both animal and human.

jeff biss
6 Months Ago

Meat is murder. Pigs have the same rights that we claim for ourselves because we consider ourselves moral and because we do not need meat to sustain life or health, we are obligated to end this holocaust.

Ruth Eisenbud
16 Apr 2018

According to genesis - animals do not have the same right to be free from slaughter, as man.

It is only ahimsa that grants all beings the same right to have their lives protected from harm.

Try as we may to get around the words of the genesis mandate - they are quite clear, not an indication of our nature, but rather encouraging the worst in our nature by enshrining slaughter. These words encourage the urge to kill. It is only ahimsa that seeks to bring out what is best in human nature by discouraging the killing of living beings.:

Ahimsa is derived from the Sanskrit verb root hims, which means "desirous to kill," and the prefix a- is negation. So a-himsa means literally "lacking any desire to kill,"

Ruth Eisenbud
16 Apr 2018

Ruth Eisenbud
16 Apr 2018

We must hold the religions that incitee violence to animals accountable.... their responsiblity cannot be glossed over. They are no better than any other abuser held accountable by the animal rights movement.

Ruth Eisenbud
6 Months Ago

Ah, yes, The slow more careful slaughter of judeo.christian slaughter is so much more humane.... We must stop all slaughter.... & abandon the religions that slaughter with moral impunity: judaism, christianity & islam.

We must turn to AHIMSA - non-violence to any living being and discard the notion that slaughter is a sacred right according to genesis:

Genesis 9:1-3 “The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”

jeff biss
16 Apr 2018

I don\'t believe in god, but having read the bible, I interpret that not as a command but as an indication of our nature and thus as a prophecy of what our narcissism and hubris will bring on all other living things. We have created religions that elevate us from accountability for the evil that we commit because we are selfish to the core.

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