Factory farming waits for no pig, dead or alive.
Inside the Quality Pork Processors' plant in Austin, Minnesota, where 1,300 workers slaughter and process about 20,000 hogs daily, the video captured all.
The slaughterhouse, which serves ag giant Hormel, is one of a handful of facilities that are part of a pilot project run by the USDA, which allows plants to run at increased speeds without greater regulatory oversight.
According to the footage that was first made public last year, live animals that should have been euthanized or at least seriously stunned are seen having their throats slit, being dragged across the floor via metal hook inserted into their mouths, and dropped into a scalding de-hairing tank where they either are burnt to death or die by asphyxiation.
In one scene a worker laughs about one pig that was definitely "alive."
In another an employee uses a knife to drain pus-filled abscesses before sending carcasses down the conveyor belt.
The video made its way into the hands of Compassion Over Killing, an animal advocacy nonprofit that works on protecting animals from abuse, especially those in agriculture. The footage soon went viral, flaming massive internet outrage, which prompted the arrival of USDA inspectors. Which, in turn, resulted in not much at all.
Despite the fact that investigators found violations corroborating the footage, federal regulators refrained from taking any meaningful action. In fact, USDA spokesperson Adam Tarr previously told the Washington Post that the facility was a model for pork production nationwide.
The animal rights group also approached the Austin Police Department about opening a cruelty case. That too went nowhere.
Thirteen months is long enough to wait, according to Compassion Over Killing spokesperson Jennifer Mishler. In Mower County Court, the group filed a criminal complaint against the slaughterhouse operator. According to the 19-page filing, it's asking the court to force local officials to enforce Minnesota animal cruelty statutes.
A hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Messages left at Quality Pork headquarters went unreturned.
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