Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) buys pigs from an Itoham Foods Inc. (2284) facility in Wyoming that keeps pregnant sows in undersized cages and abuses the animals, the Humane Society of the U.S. said, citing an undercover video.
The video was recorded last month by an employee at a facility owned by Hyogo, Japan-based Itoham, Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Washington-based animal- protection organization, said today on a call with reporters. Gestating sows weighing 500 pounds are confined to cages so small they can’t turn around, he said.
McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), Burger King Holdings Inc. and Safeway Inc. (SWY) have asked suppliers to phase out gestation crates, which are legal. Tyson’s competitors, including Hormel Foods Corp., Cargill Inc. and Smithfield Farms Inc. have said they plan to reduce or eliminate the use of such crates. Pacelle said the video shows that Tyson buys pigs raised in a way that Americans increasingly reject.
Tyson said it didn’t buy any hogs raised on this farm for its pork-processing plants.
“We do have a small, but separate hog-buying business that buys aged sows,” the company said in a statement on its website. “These animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson’s pork-processing business.”
A call to Itoham’s Wyoming subsidiary wasn’t immediately returned.
The video also shows pigs and piglets at the 10,000-animal facility being punched and kicked, injured pigs going without treatment and dead animals left uncollected.
Pig farmers in the European Union starting Jan. 1 will be required to keep breeding animals together in open pens for most of their lives instead of confining them to gestation pens.
The Humane Society has asked the Platte County sheriff to pursue criminal charges under Wyoming’s anti-cruelty statute, Pacelle said.
“There is something very, very wrong with this production system where animals are immobilized for their entire lives,” Pacelle said on the call. “Something must change.”
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