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The Virginian-Pilot reports that Smithfield Foods is “releasing seven videos offering an inside look at the pork company’s hog farms ... The release of the videos came less than three months after the Humane Society of the United States publicized an undercover video taken at a Murphy-Brown farm in Waverly. It showed workers prodding sows and tossing baby pigs. The video also reignited criticism of Smithfield’s use of 2-by-7-foot “gestation crates,” which house pregnant sows.”

According to the story, “Smithfield’s videos said the company’s handling of pigs minimizes the risk of disease. They also said the company is switching from gestation crates to “group housing.” The videos include commentary by Temple Grandin, an animal-welfare researcher respected by many animal-rights groups. Grandin also participated in Smithfield’s internal investigation of the Waverly farm after the Humane Society released its video.”

“These video tours give viewers a close look inside our hog farms and let people see firsthand how we put our commitment to product quality, food safety and animal care into practice,” said Don Butler, a spokesman for Murphy-Brown LLC, the Smithfield subsidiary that operates the farms.

The article goes on: “Josh Balk, a spokesman for the Humane Society, said in an e-mail: ‘Instead of bringing PR specialists in to make a whitewashing video, Smithfield should keep the promise it made in 2007 that by 2017 the company would phase out the inhumane confinement of its gestation pigs in crates so small they can’t even turn around.’

“Smithfield dropped the deadline in 2009 while it was suffering multimillion-dollar earnings losses. Officials have since said they are committed to eliminating gestation crates but have not re-established a timeline.”
KC's View:
Really? The PR agency is called Murphy-Brown?


I think it is entirely appropriate for Smithfield to defend itself, but I would suggest to management there that a commitment is only a commitment if you are actually committed to it even in tough times. It is no wonder that some folks are a little skeptical about its intentions.