On Wednesday, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) dropped a bombshell on The Maschhoffs, one of the country's largest pork producers, alleging animal neglect and abuse at one of the company's breeding facilities in Nebraska.
The footage shot by an undercover agent alleges "long-term neglect and lack of appropriate veterinary care."
ALDF Staff Attorney Christopher Berry provided more insight of the undercover investigator, explaining the person was embedded within The Maschhoffs facility for four months beginning in late 2015.
The Maschhoffs organization was blindsided by ALDF's accusations and had not seen footage or information of the allegations prior to ALDF's announcement.
Berry confirmed it was the ALDF's intention to supply footage to local authorities, including the Neb. Attorney General Doug Peterson and Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and not The Maschhoffs.
However, witnessing potential animal abuse or neglect is not tolerated at The Maschhoffs or within the pork industry. Josh Flint with The Maschhoffs confirmed to PORK Network the company has clear policies and an animal welfare hotline in place to ensure the well-being of animals. An undercover agent at the facility would have been required to follow these policies. Click here to read what the The Maschhoffs say about animal welfare.
Once the company was made aware of the video and allegations, The Mashhoffs immediately took action.The Maschhoffs President Bradley Wolter reiterated the company's "ethical obligation to provide for the well-being and humane care of our animals as do our customers."
Wolter said, "To that end, we are investigating these allegations and will take immediate and swift corrective actions to address them, including fully cooperating with authorities in any criminal investigation."
The Maschhoffs stressed it is not taking the allegations lightly.
"Our animal welfare policy is straightforward - we have a zero tolerance for any abuse or mistreatment of our pigs. And this instance is no exception," the company said in a statement.
Hormel Foods Corp. responded to the allegations by suspending The Mashhoffs as a supplier until certified third-party auditors complete their own investigation.
"We will not tolerate any violation of these policies.Hormel Foods Corporation has dispatched certified third-party auditors to these Nebraska farms and to additional Maschhoff sites to verify our animal care requirements are being adhered to," the company said."We expect, and have been assured, that the Maschhoffs,LLC will cooperate with authorities in any criminal investigation or prosecution."
ALDF has a history of being heavily involved with PETA in pursuing litigation against animal agriculture, and at one point filed a lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California and the California State Fair for "transporting, confining, and exhibiting pregnant and nursing pigs" at a state fair livestock nursery exhibit.