PR Meltdown for Smithfield Foods

Seems like the consequences of getting caught in a major undercover cruelty investigation are growing more severe. I’d bet yesterday’s HSUS investigation of Smithfield Foods will cost the company millions of dollars in lost sales and damage to its reputation. I’ve rounded up a few highlights in the past day’s media coverage.

Mark Bittman’s wrote up a terrific blog entry about the story:

The video leaves me pretty much speechless…

I’m usually not one to cry "boycott," but if you, like Paula Deen, are a Smithfield supporter – in fact, if you’re still eating industrially raised pork (or chicken or beef or fish for that matter) – get real. Any industry (and Smithfield is hardly alone, though it does seem to be performing most egregiously) that operates with such infuriating disregard for the welfare of their animals deserves all the trouble we can muster.

A great CBS Business article by Melanie Warner starts by calling Smithfield out on its broken promise to phase out gestation crates:

A Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) investigation at a Smithfield Foods‘ (SFD) pig farm in West Virginia should stand as a warning to meat companies that decide to ignore their own animal welfare promises — HSUS is watching you and has no trouble finding people willing to be paid to go undercover with hidden cameras, posing as one of your employees.

Warner’s piece ends with this devastating smackdown:

Here’s a thought: If you’re going to backtrack, at least remove the original “landmark” pledge from your web site.

The Nation’s has similarly scornful coverage, headlined: Smithfield is Torturing Animals.

This won’t be the end of factory farm cruelty, but it might be the end of top agribusiness companies believing they’re unlikely to get caught for perpetrating it.