Two eggs, fried, wheat toast, and nothing else. Not this morning. Oh, maybe a cup of cold bleach to wash out our eyes.
Hormel is in trouble yet again, at least visually, and its antagonists are hoping to get it in some legal hot water as well. Minnesota's mega-producer of porcine food goods, including bacon, pork chops, and SPAM, a brand of wet dog food that is bought by humans, has repeatedly been the target of secret videotaping in its slaughterhouses. Yesterday, Compassion Without Killing, the pro-vegetarian animal welfare group, released its latest batch of clips from inside an Austin, Minnesota facility. The plant, run by the inaptly named Minnesota-based "Quality Pork Producers," is a supplier to Hormel.
What's on the tape is not easy to watch, nor easily forgotten. Pigs are supposed to be unconscious, and therefore beyond feeling pain, before they're put to the knife, but some are obviously still awake, and spend their final moments squirming. Another clip shows workers cheering while a pig is shocked to force it onto the conveyor belt.
Worse still is the footage that captures sick, nearly immobile pigs, called "downers" in the slaughterhouse, which the undercover investigator claims to have seen "routinely." Animals with "prolapsed organs," or those covered in feces or puss were also shipped down the line.
One chatty worker says, seemingly out of context, "If USDA is around, they could shut us down." And maybe they will. Compassion Without Killing has turned over an extended, 97-minute tape to federal regulators, and a USDA spokesman told the Washington Post that actions captured on that video are "appalling and completely unacceptable," and were worthy of further inspection.
"If we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action," USDA spokesman Adam Tarr said.
A spokesman for the slaughtering facility said the tape was edited to suggest bad conditions from a food safety perspective, and said subsequent "interventions" in the process assure consumers of a safe, uncontaminated pork. Hormel, meanwhile, has issued a blanket statement that says it has a "zero tolerance policy for inhumane treatment of animals."
It's been a tough few weeks for Hormel, what with the recent news that eating processed meat — like bacon, sausage and SPAM — leads to elevated odds of getting cancer. That report could be bad for levels of purchasing and consumption. Also bad for sales: If your customers are unable to reach for their wallet because they cannot stop throwing up.