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Seaboard Foods fires seven workers in response to animal cruelty findings at its pig farms

Seaboard said in a written statement that it was disappointed that Mercy for Animals went public rather than using a toll-free hotline provided by the company to report animal abuse.
Seaboard said in a written statement that it was disappointed that Mercy for Animals went public rather than using a toll-free hotline provided by the company to report animal abuse. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Merriam-based Seaboard Foods has fired seven workers in response to animal cruelty investigations at its pig farms.

The company said it conducted internal investigations after Mercy for Animals, a nonprofit animal rights group, took undercover video in recent months that showed disturbing treatment of pigs.

The animal advocacy group held a news conference Wednesday in Kansas City to share an undercover video posted on a Mercy for Animals site that criticizes Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a major purchaser of Seaboard pork.

Wal-Mart said it doesn’t tolerate the mistreatment of animals and requires its suppliers to adhere to industry and government standards.

Seaboard said in a written statement that it was disappointed that Mercy for Animals went public rather than using a toll-free hotline provided by the company to report animal abuse.

The company also said it has conducted an internal investigation and fired five employees and two supervisors for violating the company’s “zero tolerance policy for improper animal handling.”

The advocacy group said the new video was taken at a Seaboard pig farm in Phillips County, Colo. It shows pigs being beaten, among other footage.

The Seaboard statement said the undercover video revealed treatment that violated the company’s best-practice policies for moving pigs. It said the mistreatment shown in the video “is unacceptable and inexcusable.”

Mercy for Animals also filed complaints with the Phillips County sheriff, but no criminal charges are being filed, authorities said.

Seaboard said the undercover video taken by Mercy for Animals will be shown to all its farm managers along with a Seaboard video showing proper handling procedures. The company posted its proper-handling video on the Seaboard Foods website.

“We also acknowledge that sometimes even the best practices as determined by veterinarians and animal care experts can seem uncomfortable to those who don’t spend their days with these animals,” the company statement said. “We know this unfortunate incident raises questions about how pork is raised for food to feed people.”

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