Protecting Food. Empowering Whistleblowers.

Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Hog Farm Whistleblower Proves Undercover Videos’ Importance

Food Integrity Campaign | June 30, 2011

An undercover video released Wednesday documents the shocking treatment of hogs at one of the nation’s largest pork production facilities.

The footage — which shows pigs being thrown across the room, and being castrated and having their tails removed without painkillers — was taken by advocacy group Mercy for Animals at Iowa Select Farms from mid-April to mid-June of this year, just as Iowa state officials were debating a proposed bill that would criminalize such recordings.

Undercover filming like this is often the only tool whistleblowers can use to effectively reveal the truth about conditions in large-scale animal agriculture. Going through “proper channels” to report abuse often results in supervisors intimidating those employees who have made complaints to keep quiet.

Regulations throughout the meat industry, overseen by USDA, do not currently incorporate whistleblower protections for workers. USDA veterinarian Dean Wyatt raised concerns internally when he witnessed inhumane handling at slaughterhouses in Vermont and Oklahoma … but both times was labeled a troublemaker and forced to relocate his job position as a form of retaliation.

Although much of what is seen in the Iowa video is industry standard practice, the footage has brought attention to potential violations and caused the company to hire an animal behaviorist from Iowa State University to investigate the claims in the video. Without the voices of dissent from industry whistleblowers, it’s safe to say that food production giants wouldn’t do much to adhere to even their modest standards.

GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign works to empower employees so they can promote transparency along the supply chain without risking their job and livelihood in the process. “Ag-gag” bills that target whistleblowers, rather than focus on the individuals doing the abuse, are not addressing the problem and are, instead, enabling industry secrecy. Backed by biotechnology powerhouse and herbicide producer Monsanto, as well as many other corporate interests, the Iowa bill passed the House in March but has stalled in the Senate.


Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.