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FTC Complaint Filed Over Pork Council’s False and Misleading Animal Welfare Claims

The Humane Society of the United States filed a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asserting that the National Pork Producers Council is engaging in deceptive advertising related to animal well-being in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

The complaint alleges that the pork industry’s public descriptions of its “We Care Initiative” and deceptively-titled “Pork Quality Assurance Plus” program are riddled with numerous false claims regarding the welfare of pigs, including the trade group’s patently false claim that its PQA Plus program helps to “ensure that all animals in the pork industry continue to receive humane care and handling.”

The complaint explains how the abusive practices allowed by the We Care and PQA Plus programs are fundamentally inconsistent with the Pork Council’s public claims. The HSUS and other organizations have regularly documented practices in the pork industry that most consumers do not consider humane such as the extreme confinement of breeding sows in two-foot-wide metal cages, and painful procedures such as tail “docking,” which is typically performed without any form of pain relief.

“The pork industry spends millions misleading the public about its animal welfare record, while allowing pigs to be crammed into tiny gestation crates where they can’t even turn around for months on end,” says Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation at The HSUS. “Rather than investing in real animal welfare reforms, the Pork Council is betting the farm on a deceptive PR campaign designed to mislead consumers with false assurances.”

The HSUS’s complaint seeks prompt FTC action to stop the NPPC from deceiving consumers through its misleading animal care representations.


•    About 70 percent of breeding sows in the United States are confined in crates so small the animals can barely move for their entire lives. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes suffering.
•    A 2007 American Farm Bureau-funded poll found that about two-thirds of Americans – 64 percent – agree that gestation crates are inhumane.
•    Farm animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin states that "gestation stalls have got to go."
•    This year, major food companies such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Compass Group – the largest food service company in the world – announced their plans to eliminate the use of gestation crates in their food supply chains.
•    Pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent gestation crate-free.
•    Eight U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to ban gestation crates and Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont have bills pending that would outlaw them.


Media contact: Anna West, 240-751-2669, awest@humanesociety.org

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