- Carmen RottenbergUSDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
- James SneeHormel Chief Executive Officer
- Luis MarconiHormel Group Vice President, Grocery Products
- Sonny PerdueSecretary of Agriculture
- Paul KieckerUSDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Acting Administrator
- Hormel Foods
Stop the Unhealthy and Inhumane High-Speed Slaughter of Pigs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to expand a flawed pilot program that allows select slaughterhouses to dramatically speed up their slaughter lines, while simultaneously pulling back on government oversight. I recently worked undercover at one of these pilot facilities, and captured on video the shocking ways this program fails to protect animal welfare--and American food safety.
Please join me in telling USDA and Hormel it’s time to stop this high-speed, reduced-inspection pilot program, known as HIMP. By shifting key inspection responsibilities to the slaughterhouses themselves, this program is allowing animal abuse and food safety problems to increasingly go unchecked. Consumers deserve more, not less, oversight in food production.
Before going undercover at Quality Pork Processors in Austin, Minnesota, I knew that I would see appalling abuses and nightmarish animal suffering—that’s unavoidable at a slaughter plant, especially one that processes 1,300 pigs each hour. But what I didn’t expect was how rare it would be to encounter a government inspector on the kill floor, or how many pigs would be processed into Spam or other Hormel products despite being sick, injured, riddled with pus-filled abscesses, or covered in feces.
Even knowing what I did about animal cruelty, I naively believed that the government was at least making sure that the food supply was safe—but I don’t believe that anymore. Now, I know that our government has rubber-stamped a program that gives the profit-driven pork industry free reign to “monitor” itself.
I documented plant employees, under pressure to keep up with the facility’s high operating speeds, dragging, kicking, beating, and excessively shocking pigs. I even saw pigs regaining consciousness on the slaughter line—a major violation of federal law.
But, I never saw the workers being held accountable for these or other abuses, and it’s no wonder—why would a company “inspector” blow the whistle on his coworkers and employer?
Let’s demand that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to live up to its name and do just that—meaningfully inspect our nation’s slaughterhouses. It can’t continue to bow to pressure from industry giants like Hormel. We must end this high-speed slaughter program, which replaces highly-trained inspectors with untrained, industry employees—with devastating results for animals, workers, and consumers.
“Jay” (Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator)
- USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
- Hormel Chief Executive Officer
- Hormel Group Vice President, Grocery Products
- Secretary of Agriculture
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Acting Administrator
- Hormel Foods
I’m writing to urge you to put an end to HIMP, the high-speed, reduced-oversight USDA pilot program in place at five U.S. pig slaughterhouses--three which are owned by or exclusively supply to Hormel.
Only the pork industry stands to gain from this program, which increases output but decreases accountability, and it’s inevitable that both animal abuse and food safety issues will flourish if this program is rolled out nationwide.
Animals, workers, and consumers desperately need USDA to work for them, not the industry. Please work to strengthen, not weaken, existing animal welfare and food safety protections, and terminate the HIMP program for good.
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