Animal right group Mercy for Animals (MFA) released a new undercover video Jan. 31 that was taken at Hormel pork supplier The Maschhoffs. On the same day, The Maschhoffs said it was already taking action to address the allegations in the video, which was taken at one of its sow farms in Oklahoma. The video focused on sow housing conditions as well as piglet care practices.
“We have launched a full-scale investigation in response to this video,” The Maschhoffs president Bradley Wolter said. “Any animal care deficiencies discovered will be addressed in the quickest manner possible.”
The company said it has taken the following immediate actions as a result of its initial investigation:
- Communicating The Maschhoffs' zero-tolerance policy for animal mistreatment with all employees and production partners.
- Retraining all Oklahoma employees on the proper production procedures with respect to the practices displayed in the video.
- Ensuring that every farm manager at The Maschhoffs reviews the video and fully understands the responsibility that comes with proper animal care.
“We view animal care as a continuous-improvement process,” Wolter said. “We will continue to make investments to further our animal care standards in the future. Properly caring for our animals is of the utmost importance.”
The Maschhoffs said it has a zero-tolerance policy for any abuse or mistreatment of its pigs and is “dedicated to achieving high standards of consistent care to ensure the safety and welfare of its animals.”
Wolter added, “We are proud to produce pigs for U.S. pork packers and processors. We do not take this responsibility lightly.”
Hormel said in a statement that it had dispatched certified third-party auditors to the Oklahoma farms and to additional Maschhoffs sites to verify that Hormel’s animal care requirements are being adhered to.
“Today, Hormel Foods was made aware of an undercover video taken at a Maschhoffs farm. This farm is a supplier to numerous large food companies, including Hormel Foods. Animal stewardship, including the care and humane treatment of animals, is one of our most important values,” Hormel said. "Hormel Foods has a strict supplier code of conduct and policies relating to animal care and welfare. We will not tolerate any violation of these policies. As such, we have issued a suspension of all the Maschhoffs LLC Oklahoma sow operations while a thorough investigation is completed."
Hormel said it expects, and has been assured, that The Maschhoffs will cooperate with the investigation.
In regard to the use of gestation crates, Hormel said it made a commitment that its company-owned farms will be gestation crate free by 2018 but added that it is "pleased to report that this conversion will be completed in the next 30 days.”
Additionally, Hormel said a key part of its Animal Welfare Advisory Council’s charter is to understand and recommend animal welfare procedures and practices that are in the best interest of the animals. “This group will continue to look closely at all industry practices for opportunities for continuous improvement. We have a shared goal in this regard.”