A panel organized by the Center for Food Integrity to review cases of alleged animal abuses said Thursday that undercover video collected at an Oklahoma hog farm this fall indeed indicated inhumane practices.
The video, released by activist group Mercy for Animals, shows pigs being thrown, kicked, and picked up by their ears, according to CFI. Additional depictions include one employee vigorously shaking a small pig.
"These behaviors violate every principle of humane animal handling and go against everything the swine industry advocates for providing decent quality care for animals," Dr. Candace Croney of Purdue University said in a CFI statement.
Croney was part of a the three-member group that also included Dr. Temple Grandin, of Colorado State University and Dr. John Deen of the University of Minnesota.
The panel concluded that the abuses depicted in the video were unacceptable. As a result of the abuse, the farm has been subsequently dropped from its contract with Tyson, the company said Thursday.
"There's abuse and egregious misbehavior by employees in their handling of the animals in this video," Deen said. "What is especially concerning is that it appears to be a culture rather than being able to attribute the behavior to individuals."
During the video, workers are seen euthanizing piglets using a blunt force trauma method. The video infers the practice is not being carried out properly as pigs are shown afterward convulsing or moving their legs in a paddling motion, CFI said.
"In my experience, paddling is involuntary movement and can occur after successful euthanasia," Deen said. "Much of what is seen appears to be post-mortem thrashing which might lead some to think the animals are still alive."
However, Grandin clarified that there are more preferred methods.
"Those appeared to be unconscious convulsions, but the (American Veterinary Medical Association) recommends those using manually applied blunt force to the head as a euthanasia method to actively search for alternative approaches," Grandin said. "And, I agree with them."
The National Pork Producers Council, in a statement regarding the video, said it indicates actions that violate the standards of the U.S. pork industry.
"NPPC and America’s hog farmers do not condone and, in fact, strongly condemn practices that are not in accord with U.S. pork industry best practices," the statement said.
Mercy For Animals said it is calling for criminal charges against the workers depicted in the video.