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Video shows alleged abuse of pigs by Walmart pork supplier

The U.S. supplier of pork to Wal-Mart is under intense scrutiny today after undercover footage revealed horrendous treatment of its pigs

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

Save money, live better – but at what cost?

The U.S. supplier of pork to Wal-Mart is under intense scrutiny today after undercover footage revealed horrendous treatment of its pigs.

A private investigator for non-profit agency Mercy for Animals released hidden camera footage where animals were found living in "nightmarish conditions," the agency told the Huffington Post.

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The footage, allegedly taken at Pipestone system's Rosewood Farm in Minnesota, shows pigs being punched and abused, and employees cutting off the tails and testicles of piglets without anesthetic.

These videos – there are more found on the website walmartcruelty.com – are important viewing for anyone who buys meat products from mass-produced retailers. Note that the content is extremely graphic – I can only make it to about the 20 second point before a complete emotional breakdown.

(My personal view, worth repeating here, is that ignorance is not bliss in these scenarios: know where your food comes from.)

While this recent uproar is based in America – there are, according to Mercy for Animals Canada, arguably equally awful conditions at a factory that supplies Canadian grocers.

One major point from Mercy for Animals is the use of gestation crates – pigs being held in tiny cages barely big enough to hold them, a practice that many of Wal-Mart's competitors have abandoned.

Danit Marquardt, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, told the Huffington Post that "this is a complicated issue," and said the department store giant is committed to an "industry-wide model that is not only respectful of farmers and animals, but also meets our customers' expectations for quality and animal safety."

Today's Wal-Mart pork controversy is sadly just the latest in a string of mass-produced animal stories causing outrage on social media (remember last month's frozen hen outrage?)

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Reactions over on the HuffPo story were heated, with the main point of contention being whether eating any meat is ever acceptable, if you're going to be outraged by these videos.

"If we're going to raise these creatures for our own consumption, can we at least provide them with a modicum of care, humanity and respect in their short lives before they're marched off to slaughter?" asked soapboxguy.

"If you don't like what you see, don't support it," argued plantbasedpunk. "Try avocado or eggplant or mushrooms or mock ham on your sandwich for a change. It's humane, healthy and better for the environment."

Follow me on twitter: @amberlym

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