The meat and livestock industries in the United States have received some unwanted news coverage lately: the lean finely textured beef, or pink slime, issue; the country’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE); and another undercover video of animal cruelty.

While the BSE case is covered in this issue of Render, and the pink slime situation doesn’t directly affect renderers, the undercover video is something to be aware of because it happens all too frequently and is often unwarranted. But in this new case, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) might actually have a leg to stand on.

“Unacceptable and indefensible” were the words used by an Animal Care Review Panel to describe the mistreatment of piglets and sows at a Wyoming hog farm. A video revealing the abuse was shot in April 2012 and released by the HSUS shortly thereafter. Most all viewers, including those in the industry, agreed with the panel, which is comprised of some notable names in animal agriculture: the actions in the video are disturbing and inexcusable.

HSUS linked the hog farm to Tyson Foods, Inc. and used the video as part of a campaign to get the meat producer to stop its suppliers from using gestation crates. Tyson denied any connection to the farm, but did admit having a small, separate hog buying business that buys aged sows. “However,” the company stated in a press release, “these animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson’s pork processing business.” For HSUS, that was connection enough to be a target. The society stated soon after that Tyson had suspended its purchase of animals from the Wyoming farm.

The mistreatment of animals is very rare in the livestock industry, which prides itself on using the most advanced technology and training to ensure animals are well cared for and, thus, profitable. Yet, videos such as this, whether accurate or distorted, leave a major black eye on the industry.

If indeed the video is accurate, the livestock industry should be appalled and do everything possible to make sure such actions never happen again.

June 2012 RENDER | back