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February 9, 2012

Seaboard Foods’ Response to Undercover Animal Cruelty Investigation Prompts Second Complaint to Federal Agencies

SEC, FTC Alerted to Company’s Continued Use of False and Misleading Information

The Humane Society of the United States has filed supplemental complaints with both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission regarding false and misleading statements being made by Seaboard Foods — the nation’s third-largest pork producer and a supplier to Walmart — in response to a recent undercover investigation video of one of the company’s Oklahoma pig breeding facilities.

The investigation documented breeding sows confined in tight gestation crates, barely larger than the animals’ own bodies, unable to even turn around. The investigation video also showed workers hitting animals, duct-taping their splayed legs to their bodies and jabbing their eyes. Following the release of these findings, The HSUS filed complaints with the SEC and FTC, alleging that Seaboard makes grossly false and misleading statements about animal welfare to shareholders, potential investors and the public, including that the company uses the “most humane practices.”

In response to the video and complaints, Seaboard issued public statements about its supposed animal welfare programs which further affirm the allegations made in The HSUS’ initial federal complaints.

In Seaboard’s news release following the investigation, the company defends its permanent immobilization of pigs in gestation crates as standard “U.S. industry practices,” despite repeated representations in other public materials that exceeding industry standards is “what separates Seaboard from other companies.”

“There’s simply no rational way the company can profess on the one hand to stand out from competitors on animal welfare and then revert to a claim of ‘industry standard practices’ when defending its mistreatment of animals,” says Jonathan Lovvorn, chief counsel and senior vice president of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. “Locking animals in gestation crates is simply indefensible, as is misleading investors and the public about that abuse.”

The second SEC complaint is available here, and the second FTC complaint is available here

Facts:

  • Gestation crates are used to house breeding sows in the pork industry for their four-month pregnancy. The pigs are then are placed into another crate to give birth. After that, the pigs are impregnated again and the cycle is repeated pregnancy after pregnancy until the pigs are slaughtered.
  • Extensive scientific research confirms that this confinement is detrimental to animal welfare. Seaboard’s own animal welfare advisor Dr. Temple Grandin, states, “I feel very strongly that we've got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • Leading pork producers including Smithfield Foods and Hormel Foods have announced plans to be 100 percent gestation crate-free for their company-owned operations by 2017. Cargill—another major pork producer—is already 50 percent gestation crate-free.

 

 

 

Media Contact:

Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518

 

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