Animal welfare charity Mercy for Animals (MFA) is standing by its claims that a video shot undercover at a US pig farm showed animal cruelty.
The charity has rejected a report from the National Pork Board and the Animal Care Review Panel, which investigated allegations made in the video and claimed that there were “no signs of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect” and no evidence that Christensen Farms - which supplies meat to Walmart - had broken the law.
Speaking to Globalmeatnews.com, MFA director of investigations Matt Rice admitted that the farmers were not technically breaking the law, but pointed out that there were no federal laws protecting farm animals. He said that most of the statutory laws also excluded the treatment of farm animals from protection.
Rice said: “We talked to them [Walmart] about the crates the pigs are kept in. We started to demand that they made a change as these crates are cruel and are not large enough for animals to move around in — they are banned in Europe.”
He denied claims from Christensen Farms that the video was dated, pointing out that the investigation only ended in March this year.
The video, which was released last week, showed undercover footage shot at Christensen Farms. MFA said the footage was recorded by one of its “investigators” who got a job and “simply went to work with a hidden camera”.
The video showed scenes of alleged animal cruelty including sows in stalls which were too small for them to move, sows displaying characteristics attributed to boredom and under-stimulation, such as bar-biting, piglets being castrated and having their tails removed without pain relief and piglets compromised by ill health being culled by “blunt force trauma” – having their heads struck against a concrete floor until dead.
MFA has called on Walmart to take action over the footage, asking it to follow the lead of its competitors by providing meat that has been raised with welfare in mind.
Walmart said it was investigating the footage. Walmart spokeswoman Deisha Galberth Barnett said: “We will not tolerate animal mistreatment by our suppliers. As soon as we were made aware of the video, we immediately reached out to our suppliers who source from this farm.”
Barnett also said that if any mistreatment of animals was discovered, then action would be taken. She said: “We currently offer gestation crate-free pork products in a number of stores across the US. We have been having, and will continue to have, ongoing discussions with our suppliers, NGOs and food safety experts to find ways to increase that number. We believe in offering our customers a choice.”
In a statement released by Christensen Farms, chief executive Robert Christensen said that taking care of the animals was the company’s primary goal and essential to the success of the business. Christensen claimed that the images shown in the video were “dated” and “intentionally taken out of context”.
The MFA video can be seen here: http://walmartcruelty.com/