If you’re eating bacon right now, you might want to put it down. According to the Washington Post, a seriously disturbing undercover video (an edited, but still gruesome, version can be found here) taken inside of one of the country’s largest pork producers shows pigs being tortured and inhumanely killed. The graphic video was “covertly filmed” by an employee of non-profit animal rights group Compassion over Killing. The group claims that the video was taken inside an Austin, MN facility run by Quality Pork Processors, which supplies meat to Hormel Foods, the maker of Spam.
The group has handed over the full 97-minute long unedited video to the USDA, which shows pigs “being dragged across the floor, beaten with paddles, and sick to the point of immobility.” Pigs covered with “puss-filled abscesses” and others covered with feces are also seen being sent down the slaughtering line. And while pigs are supposed to be unconscious by law before being slaughtered, the video shows many of the animals “writing in apparent pain.” A worker is even heard saying, “That one was definitely alive.”
The USDA is currently investigating the video. Spokesperson Adam Tarr tells the paper:
Quality Pork Processors, which might want to rethink its name, claims that the video was edited to make it “look like there were violations when in fact there were none.”
Regardless of what Quality Pork Processors says, meat factories unfortunately do not have a reputation for being the pinnacle of food safety and or the humane treatment of animals. In December, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and The Fate of Our Food author Ted Genoways penned an op-ed for the Guardian explaining the darker sides of the meat processing industry. Genoways explains that “the industry has been stretched to the breaking point by the drive for cheaper and cheaper meat.”
However, while production has been upped, the number of employees has not been increased to match it, resulting in overworked staff who are more likely to make mistakes. Plus, with the focus on production, less attention is paid to safety: “The combination of fast processing and insufficient inspection has resulted in meat products containing fecal matter and dangerous bacteria such as E coli.”
This disturbing fact, paired with the news that meat has been linked to a higher risk of colon cancer, will undoubtedly make some meat-loving folks turn veg.