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Wal-Mart pressured over pig cruelty video by Mercy for Animals

A photograph of a pig is shown during a Mercy for Animals press conference Wednesday, July 18, 2012, on the alleged inhumane treatment of pigs at Minnesota-based Christensen Farms.
July 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
An animal rights organization released what they call horrific and disturbing undercover video of the treatment of pigs at one of the largest pork producers in the U.S.

The video of pregnant pigs in what the pork industry calls gestation crates was taken at Minnesota-based Christensen. Mercy for Animals presented the video showing, among other things, piglets being castrated and their tails being cut off.

"As horrific and appalling as these conditions are, the truth is that they are widespread and rampant in the pork industry," said Nathan Runkle, the founder and executive director of Mercy for Animals, during a press conference Wednesday.

"These pigs in these crates can't even turn around, they can't lie down," added Bob Barker, an animal rights advocate, during the press conference. "Every day is a living hell for them."

Mercy for Animals is calling on Wal-Mart to stop selling pork products from Christensen Farms.

In a written statement, a Wal-Mart representative said, "We currently offer gestation crate-free pork products in a number of stores across the U.S. We have been having and will continue on-going discussions with our suppliers, NGOs and food safety experts to increase that number. We believe in offering our customers a choice."

According to Christensen Farms, what the video shows is how the pork industry operates.

"Taking proper care of our animals is our primary goal and essential to the success of our business," said Robert Christiansen, the company's CEO. "Over the years, we have continually challenged ourselves to improve our operational practices and compliance with industry standards."

Kmart and Costco announced Wednesday that they are asking their pork suppliers not to use farms that use gestation crates.

In 2008, California voters approved a ballot measure that banned the use of gestation crates at farms in the state. Eight other states have similar bans.


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