Group releases graphic video, claims animal mistreatment at MN slaughterhouse

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An animal welfare group is accusing one of the nation's largest pork producers of inhumanely treating pigs at a slaughterhouse in Minnesota.

Compassion Over Killing released graphic video Wednesday it says was taken at the Quality Pork Processors facility in Austin – a slaughterhouse that supplies to Hormel Foods – showing "pigs as they are pushed, prodded and dragged to their death," the group said on its website.

The group gave a copy of the unedited video to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which called the actions in the video "appalling and completely unacceptable," the Washington Post says. The agency has promised to "aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action."

Quality Pork Processors told the Washington Post the edited video makes it seem like there were violations, saying if the video included the entire sequence of events it would show the hogs were handled appropriately.

Compassion Over Killing is also concerned about the process the slaughterhouse uses. Quality Pork Processors are one of five pork processors that are participating in a government-approved pilot program, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), which gives meat processors more responsibility over the inspection process, allowing them to operate at faster processing speeds.

The program, which began in the 1990s, is controversial, with some concerned faster line speeds and less oversight lead to the inhumane treatment of animals and jeopardize food safety. Compassion Over Killing is among the groups speaking out against the program, claiming the USDA is "essentially giving" the pork industry a "free pass to police itself," and has started a Change.org petition to put an end to the HIMP pilot program.

The USDA has disputed the claims, The Associated Press reports.

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