This evening, we aired undercover video at an Iowa pig farm, the fourth largest in the country, that supplies pork to Safeway and Costco. An animal rights activist from Mercy for Animals went undercover at Iowa Select Farms from April to this month, getting a job and going through the training. She took video of gestation crates that will be banned in California in 2015 -- sows can't turn around or lie down on their sides because the crates are so narrow. Nothing in the law will prevent stores from buying pork from suppliers in other states that use the gestation crates.
The activist took video of workers at Iowa Select tossing piglets. Workers also performed castrations and clipped their tails without painkillers (that's standard practice in the industry). The activist says she saw sick and injured pigs who did not receive medical care or a humane death; we showed the process of "thumping", where workers at Iowa Select take a sick piglet by its back legs and smash its head on the concrete floor.
We were careful not to show the most gruesome images. If you have a strong stomach, you can watch it on the Mercy for Animals website.
Reaction has been swift. As we said in tonight's report, Costco is sending its auditors to Iowa Select's facility to check them out. Safeway is halting purchase of Iowa Select pork until there's an independent investigation. You can read their statement here. Iowa Select issued a statement saying they have zero tolerance for animal abuse; they don't address the issue of gestation crates in their release -- you can read it here. And finally, JBS, the world's largest meat processing company (which salughters the pigs from Iowa Select and sends them to stores including Costco and Safeway) says they're stopping doing business with Iowa Select until the problems are cleared up. Read their statement here.
There's a simple way to find out if the pork you're buying might come from Iowa Select. According to Mercy for Animals, they send their pigs to JBS' Marshalltown, Iowa or Worthington, Minnesota slaughter plants. The USDA has assigned an "establishment number" of "3S" for the Marshalltown plant and "3W" for Worthington. Those numbers are stamped on the pork that comes from those slaughterhouses, as seen in this photo from the activists.