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US Companies Hit Back at Cruelty Allegations

2 February 2012, at 8:10am

US - US pig meat processor Seaboard Foods has hit back at allegations contained a Humane Society of the United States video alleging abuse of animals.

The Humane Society of the United States released undercover videos taken at Oklahoma pig breeding facilities owned by two leading US pork producers and filed legal complaints with the US Securities and Exchange and Federal Trade Commission alleging false and misleading statements about animal care by one of the producers.

The videos, shot in late 2011, were taken at two Goodwell, Oklahoma, pig breeding facilities—one owned by Seaboard Foods and the other by Prestage Farms — and HSUS claims they show animals suffering inside cramped gestation crates and, in some cases, at the hands of abusive employees.

The society also claims there are pictures of lame pigs, pigs with gross abscesses, torn ears and noses, and ripped genitals and piglets sickened by "greasy pig" disease that were not seen by veterinarians.

A statement from Seaboard Foods says: "We’ve reviewed documented employee actions alleging abuse and listened to the recent discussions questioning US industry practices of sow gestation, swine tail cutting (or docking) and swine castration, and strongly dispute any allegations of abuse.

"We are pleased that our employees are following proper industry-supported protocols and procedures. In direct response to the recently released video by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Dr Temple Grandin, Ph.D., who also is quoted in the video, stated that 'there was no bad behavior by people' in the operations depicted at Seaboard Foods.

"We are committed to the proper and humane treatment of animals, and we believe animals can and should be raised, transported and processed using procedures that are safe and free from cruelty and neglect. We are proud of our employees for exemplifying best practices in their day to day work and truly being leaders within the industry.

"Our farm managers and farm sites are PQA Plus certified with specific requirements for proper animal care. Moreover, our guidelines and protocols are audited independently by Farm Animal Care Training and Auditing, LLC, (FACTA), a company led by Chief Executive and Scientific Officer John McGlone, Ph.D. and professor at the Pork Industry Institute at Texas Tech University, who is supported by a group of credentialed auditors and educators.

"It is important to recognise animal welfare programmes, including housing for gestating sows, must be based on sound science while also seeking a balance with societal concerns. Seaboard Foods’ integrated system uses both stalls and group pens to house gestating sows. Animal welfare experts and professional groups have found no one method for housing gestating sows that is clearly better than the other when managed properly.

"As part of our ongoing evaluation of best practices, we are conducting research to determine the best management practices for alternative sow housing practices in our system. Furthermore, swine tail docking and castration are essential industry practices for the health and well-being of food animals as stated by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"Seaboard Foods employees uphold best industry practices and our company will continue to act in ways that provide the most humane treatment for our animals. All decisions stem from this commitment."