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May 1, 2012

The HSUS Recognized with Webby Award for Outstanding Smithfield Exposé

The Humane Society of the United States is proud to receive a 2012 Webby People's Voice Award for the video “Undercover at Smithfield.” The video chronicles an HSUS investigation of the largest pork producer, which documented inhumane treatment of pigs and led to a positive commitment by the company to improve its animal welfare practices.

The video was taken by an HSUS investigator who spent a month working at a Smithfield Foods subsidiary in Virginia. The facility confined pigs in two-foot-wide “gestation crates” in which the animals can’t even turn around for nearly their whole lives. After the video was produced, Smithfield announced that it would recommit to phasing out these gestation crates at company-owned facilities by 2017.

“The video shows how much breeding pigs suffer when confined in cages that are so small, the animals can barely move an inch,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for investigations for The HSUS. “This Webby Award underscores the importance of whistle-blowing exposés that the agribusiness industry is now trying to suppress with ag-gag laws that seek to criminalize such investigations.”

While The HSUS works to expose the inhumane practices found in factory farms, the response by some states has not been to try to prevent the abuses, but to prevent the American people from finding out about those abuses in the first place by passing laws that make investigations like this one impossible.

The 16th Annual Webby Awards is the biggest in the awards’ history with nearly 10,000 entries from all 50 U.S. states and over 60 countries. The Webby awards are the leading international awards honoring excellence on the Internet.

The Smithfield video and other investigations have helped lead to significant changes in the pork industry, as Smithfield and its major competitors such as Cargill and Hormel are moving away from gestation crates, and companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Compass Group and others are requiring that suppliers phase out extreme confinement systems for breeding pigs such as the ones depicted in the videos.

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Media Contacts:  Katie Jarl: 301-258-1483, kjarl@humanesociety.org

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