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Smithfield Rebuffs HSUS Complaint

by 5m Editor
8 November 2011, at 10:04am

US - US pig meat processing giant, Smithfield Foods has hit back at allegations made by the Humane Society of the United States regarding the company's animal welfare practices contained in a complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The HSUS complaint alleges that Smithfield is making false and misleading claims to shareholders and consumers about its corporate responsibility practices.

According to The HSUS’ complaint filed with the SEC, the claims — made in a video series titled Taking the Mystery out of Pork Production — falsely convey to viewers that Smithfield has higher animal welfare and environmental standards than it actually does.

The HSUS says that Smithfield and its subsidiary Murphy Brown continue to confine breeding sows in gestation crates.

Smithfield Foods says: "The HSUS allegations are wholly without merit and appear to be another in a series of frivolous attacks initiated by HSUS against our business aimed at distracting us from our mission and pressuring us to accelerate the phase out of individual gestation pens-something we are already committed to doing.

"We are proud of our unparalleled track record as a sustainable food producer and stand confidently behind our company's public statements concerning animal care and environmental stewardship. Our progress in these areas is clearly documented on our website and in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report, including the fact that 30 percent of sows at our company-owned farms will be in group housing by the end of 2011.

"The well-being of all our animals is one of our highest priorities, which is why we consistently seek input from our customers, consumers, experts in animal husbandry, veterinarians and animal behavior specialists.

"Our concerted social responsibility efforts during the past decade have resulted in third-party recognition that we are very proud of. Most significantly, we were the first in our industry to achieve ISO 14001 environmental certification for all of our U.S. hog production and pork processing facilities. ISO 14001 is the international gold standard for environmental management. In addition, Smithfield Foods has been consistently named to FORTUNE magazine's prestigious annual list of America's Most Admired Companies.

"We welcome all who are interested in learning more about our company's corporate social responsibility practices. Any objective assessment of our practices would conclude that Smithfield and our employees are behaving in a socially responsible manner."