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Beginning of the End: Pig Flesh Companies Feel the Heat

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Posted January 31, 2007 by Marta Holmberg

The past week has been a big one for pigs …

If you were to ask the average person at a grocery store what a gestation crate is, they would probably have no idea, but if that person has pig flesh in their shopping cart—be it labeled “ham,” “pork,” or otherwise—they should. Most of the 100 million pigs killed in the U.S. for their flesh each year spend their lives in cramped metal pens inside filthy sheds—they don’t live fairytale lives like Babe or Wilbur. Mother pigs are intensively confined and forcibly impregnated, then confined to a gestation crate—a metal crate so small that she can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably—for their entire adult lives. Forced to live lying in their own feces and urine, mother pigs are never allowed to step outdoors until the day they are forced onto trucks headed for slaughter. Gestation crates are so cruel in fact that voters in the state of Florida and Arizona have already banned their use entirely.

Since we know that not everyone will go vegetarian overnight, PETA has been working for years to get the companies who kill pigs and other animals for food to at least improve the conditions in which they are kept. Bearing that in mind, you can imagine how we felt late last week when Smithfield Foods, the largest pig flesh-producer in the United States and supplier of chains like McDonald’s, issued a statement that it would be phasing out gestation crates in the next ten years. (While we wish that Smithfield would stop the use of gestation crates immediately, this is such a huge step forward that we can’t exactly complain.) And if that wasn’t a big enough deal, then there’s this: Just days after Smithfield announced it’s decision to stop cramming mother pigs into tiny metal-and-cement cages, Maple Leaf Foods, Canada’s largest pig flesh-producer, announced that it will make the same move. To sum up, this means that the two largest killers of pigs in North America are acknowledging that consumers are not OK with cruelty to animals, and their business will suffer if they don’t take animal welfare into consideration.

Here’s what MSNBC had to say about Smithfield’s decision, and how groups like PETA and HSUS played a part in influencing this monumental change:

Pork processor Smithfield Foods Inc. said Thursday it will phase out gestation stalls or crates at all 187 sow farms it owns in eight states and replace them with “more animal-friendly” group housing pens over the next decade.

Smithfield’s sows, which the company says grow to an average of 400 to 450 pounds during gestation, are kept in 2-by-7-foot metal crates in order to monitor their progress during their four-month pregnancies.

Animal-rights groups argue that confining pigs in crates is inhumane because the sows don’t have room to turn around, they develop leg problems and they suffer from boredom and frustration. Group pens give sows some room to move and the ability to socialize.

Smithfield is making the change because customers “have told us they feel group housing is a more animal-friendly form of sow housing,” C. Larry Pope, chief executive of the Smithfield-based company, said in a statement.

(Read more …)

Of course, this is not to say that it is now alright to go out and eat pigs or any other animal for that matter. On the contrary—we will always stand by the belief that the most compassionate decision anyone can make is to adopt a vegan diet, and refuse to eat any animals. But anyone with a heart can agree—this move by Smithfield and Maple Leaf will make difference for millions of pigs, no matter how small it may seem to us. Here’s hoping that this really is the beginning of the end for factory farming, and that things like gestation crates will be left to the pages of our children’s history books.

Noah

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  • 3069 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    although im not ok with eating animals or the inhumane ways of killing them its nice to know that finally after such a long period of time somethings changing, it has to start small, soon maybe the slaughter will be somewhat ok, where the animal has a chance to enjoy life before it is taken away from it. either way though, no meat for me.

  • 3084 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    That’s so amazing.I still hate the factories and whatever but any change that would make an animals life, even a poor to-be-meat animals life a little bit better is good. Thank you PETA.

  • 3087 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    I can’t believe how cruel humans are! How do these people go to sleep at night knowig that they just ended a poor, helpless, animals life. GOOD JOB PETA!!!

  • 3094 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    This is excellent news but also sad having been a strict vegetarian for 17 years that it has taken so long to realise this cruelty.

  • 3095 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    It’s crazy what those animals go through before suffering a horrific death! I can hardly take being bored for eight hours at work. I couln’t imagine being in a cold dark cement dungeon unable to move my whole life! These factory farm owner’s need to put themselves in these animals’ position and have some freaken compasion. They should change their ways because it’s the right thing to do not because they ‘don’t want to lose buisness’. But this is a start. Keep up the great work PETA2!!!

  • 3097 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Congratulations!!! I am baffled by the fact that people are so ignorant to the fact that animals endure such cruel treatment. While they sit down to their flesh filled lunches and smile all through the conversations. I am bursting at the seams and all I want to do is help:(

  • 3097 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    PETA You are the most amazing company ever invented!
    Well done, and we will all help to make all animal cruelty stop!
    xxx PETA You are the most amazing company ever invented!
    Well done, and we will all help to make all animal cruelty stop!
    xxx <33

  • 3097 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    I dont think that these companys are doing much to change just by changing their living arrangements they still use their strenth to beat these poor animals so why dont they just stop using stuf like bolt guns or anything like that all it takes is patince to move these anomals but they dont they empoly people with the mind to hurt or kill so why cant we get these owners to empoly people from good back grounds who know how to porduce pig to meat in a sense that is fair to both animal and fram owner i dont understand what they gain out of hurting a animal these people have to be sick so why are they getting jobs to kill.

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    while I think it’s great that they’re going to stop confinig mother pigs to the small metal cages, I think that if they really wanted to be humane, they would stop using the cages altogether. It’s not it would really kill them to be nice to the poor pigs while they’re still alive. I mean, they;re going to KILL them for God’s sake! You would think that they would at least give them some respect while they live out their short lives. Also, what about the other pigs who arent in those two meant factories? There are several more factories who still use the cages. I think its awesome that those two have stopped, but what about all the other pigs?

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Thanks Peta for all your hard work. Poor pigs,I am disgusted by all the cruelty that is involved for animals that are murdered for food. This is a step towards a little less cruelty towards the pigs although and that is great to hear.

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    keep on the good job….. make the world a better place for every boddy.. the animals too

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    Been vegan for two years now.
    All I can say is “true til death”.

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    i think this is amazing, i had so much faith in what we do but yet i never thought they would take notice of us. im so pleased they have decided to do this, they can still do better though if we all keep on protesting!!!

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    “ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!!! WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT HAS MANY ALTERNATIVE AND RESOURCES TO ACT IN A CIVIL AND HUMANE WAY TOWARDS ANIMALS. JUST BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE ONLY LOOK AT THESE POOR ANIMALS AS NOTHING, DOES NOT GIVE YOU ANY RIGHT TO ABUSE THESE ANIMALS. THEY HAVE LIFE TOO AND FEELINGS AS US HUMANS, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE TAKING THEIRE LIVES ANY, GIVE THEM THE REPSECT OF BIGGER CRATES. STOP THIS INHUMANE BRUTALLITY! BE MORE ANIMAL FRIENDLY, YOU KNOW YOU CAN, SO WHY DON’T YOU?”
    Who ever said this is completely right!!!! she read my mind!!! I respect animals more then i do people. People are horrible

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    GO VEGAN! THANK YOU PETA!

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    Gestation crates will be completely illegal in the European Union from 2013.
    Gestation crates have been illegal in the UK since 1999, however a version used during farrowing is still legal.
    I’ll never forget the visit to an agricultural school on a school trip to the US in 1981, where I saw a sow in a gestation crate.

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    animal cruelty is so disgusting, im ashamed somtimes that im human. gosh the horrors we come up with, keep up the good work PETA and one day when im older when i get a job i will donate lots to you.

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Thank you so much peta for all your effort! I feel like I have no power I just cry and pray for animals.

  • 3098 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Human beings are the cruelest breed of all living creatures in this universe.They are damn bloody sinners.They have no hearts or pain for animals who are our companions infact.so mean…………..!!!!!!!!!1

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I read a book years ago called “Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm” and THAT just about did it for ME! It talked about these poor pigs living conditions in there. It made me SICK!! Thank God my husband was raised in the “Seventh Day Adventist” religion which prohibits pork products!! I grew up eating it, but I have never missed it in 13 years!!! Actually, I cut back on all other meats, as well. I could easily stop all together…. and one of these days I will!

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Thank you for posting this. People need to know this type of thing is going on in the U.S. I’ve even read of a large-scale pig (meat) manufacturing facility (such as the ones you’ve mentioned) titled: “hog hotels” in a cultural anthropology textbook that was an assigned reading. I’m so glad that many are learning of this, so many more need to be educated on the matter!

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    Yey that awsome news for american and canadian pigs…but what about the poor old british pigs left in the dark ages!!!!

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    EXCELLENT VICTORY IN THAT PLACES, BUT I HOPE THE PEOPLE STOP TO EAT ANIMALS, ANYWAY….LETS CONTINUE WITH THIS WAR AGAINST THE KILLERS OK…CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE WHO MAKE THIS POSSIBLE…
    AT´ALEX….FROM GUADALAJARA, MEXICO

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    YEAh! This is great, even though the pigs shouldn’t be penned at all at least now they won’t get as lonely. Thank you PETA!

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Well, I guess it’s a step forward, but I’m a little disappointed that they’re really going to wait 10 years to fix this problem! That’s many, many more generations of pigs that will still suffer. Well, eventually this has gotta get completely solved. . . Good job to anyone and everyone that helped/helps!

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I think this is great news! It shows that PETA and vegetarians are actually making a difference:D yay!

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Wilbur!! Ever since I was a kid, and read Charlottes Webb I have not been able to eat pork. Good for you PETA to keep the heat on !!

  • 3099 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    dude if everyone would quit being lazy and ignorant, and just all become vegetarians, then world hunger could be solved and we could make planet earth last a little longer cuz the meat industry destroys it. GO VEGETARIAN!!!! poor piggies, well atleast stuff will improve for them a teensy bit, better than nothing i guess…

  • 3101 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    well, it’s bad that people are still eating pigs, and its bad that its going to take 10 years to change this, but thats better then taking 20 years, or not changing the situation at all!
    yay for the piggies!well, it’s bad that people are still eating pigs, and its bad that its going to take 10 years to change this, but thats better then taking 20 years, or not changing the situation at all!
    yay for the piggies!<3
    yay for vegitarians!<3

  • 3102 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    That’s great… But ten years? WHY? These beautiful creatures should be happy right NOW, not in ten years! I’m appalled at how humans can eat pigs…They are loving animals and I think the’re like the third smartest animal in the world or something. Pigs deserve better living conditions than a tiny metal cage!!!

  • 3102 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    it will take 10 years? ten years to “adopt” this system??????? thats pathetic, at least the pigs in the future will be more comfertable!

  • 3103 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Thank-you PETA!! This is truly a huge step in the right direction. However, being vegetarian/vegan is the only way to be compassionate to the poor suffering animals whose lives are just as important as ours.

  • 3104 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Yes! This is great news, albeit it would be much better if it could be done right away, at least they’re finally gonna do something. Score 1 for PETA!!

  • Jen

    3105 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    How can this ever have been legal? It blows my mind to see how ignorant consumers can be. This is a step in a better direction, but I am afraid it still doesn’t solve the problem.

  • 3105 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    a decade? it will take them a decade to adopt the new system? ok… atleast the pigs nine years from now will be more comfortable.

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Humans are so cruel!!!!! i don`t believe it !!!!

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Go vegetarian!

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    That is amazing and cmpletely wonderful news! I’m gonna go throw a party!

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    This is very wonderful … by no means is it a perfect solution … but it’s definately a step in the right direction

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I am truly happy that we are making a difrence. almost every e-mail i get sent i wind up sining a petition. Im happy hat at my young age i can make a difrence.

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!!! WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT HAS MANY ALTERNATIVE AND RESOURCES TO ACT IN A CIVIL AND HUMANE WAY TOWARDS ANIMALS. JUST BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE ONLY LOOK AT THESE POOR ANIMALS AS NOTHING, DOES NOT GIVE YOU ANY RIGHT TO ABUSE THESE ANIMALS. THEY HAVE LIFE TOO AND FEELINGS AS US HUMANS, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE TAKING THEIRE LIVES ANY, GIVE THEM THE REPSECT OF BIGGER CRATES. STOP THIS INHUMANE BRUTALLITY! BE MORE ANIMAL FRIENDLY, YOU KNOW YOU CAN, SO WHY DON’T YOU?

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Thank alot Peta for the pressure you put on those compagnies. Continue to do such an amazing work!

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I am so happy and sad at the same time, i am happy they are finnaly changing things around, but still sad for the animals.

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    This is great news. Now the pigs can be treated better. Hopefully more companies will follow the example.

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I think this is absolutely great! It is a HUGE step forward in the right direction.

  • 3106 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    omg thats so awful, I use to eat a little bit of pork, but not anymore, this just angered me

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