To its credit, following this month’s HSUS undercover investigation of Smithfield Foods, the company commissioned an immediate independent review [PDF], admitted animal care standards had been violated, and fired three workers.
Unfortunately, Smithfield couldn’t resist also resorting to the same dickish behavior, one that’s been used time and again by factory farms that have been caught perpetrating animal cruelty: they’ve blamed the undercover investigator, and, in fact, put him on the same level as their fired employees.
Please note the text that I’ve set in bold below. Dennis Treacy, Smithfield senior vice president and chief sustainability officer, says:
The HSUS agent disregarded the welfare of animals in his care and violated Smithfield’s policies by (a) perpetuating abusive behavior by failing to immediately report it; (b) providing incomplete and vague information in his eventual hotline report, which obstructed the company’s ability to respond; and (c) participating in the ineffective attempt to euthanize a sow and allowing a live animal to be placed in a disposal box.
We at Smithfield Foods regret the recent incident and we abhor the actions of individuals who chose to ignore our policies.
In other words, Smithfield has as much scorn for employees who abuse animals as it does for an investigator who would expose this abuse.
As long as animal agribusiness is filled with illegal cruelties, undercover investigations will be needed. Smithfield surely knows that any undercover worker who followed its policies to immediately and constantly report all animal cruelty would provoke attention, and never be able to properly document whether rampant cruelty exists at a given facility. It’s the nature of undercover work to do everything your boss tells you to do, and to never draw attention to yourself, so as to be able to create a complete and accurate record of a given facility’s abuses.
See, if Smithfield Foods had strong, rigorously enforced policies against animal cruelty, there would be nothing objectionable for undercover investigators to see, and no policies that they could violate. Rather than bellyache over how this investigator broke its policy, Smithfield ought to acknowledge that, by failing to adequately protect its animals from abuse, they made HSUS’ undercover investigation necessary. Link.