Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Undercover worker records animal cruelty at Pennsylvania farm that supplies Whole Foods

An undercover farm worker recorded alleged abuse of pigs at a Pennsylvania Dutch Country farm that proclaims its humane practices and has connections to Whole Foods, a company that prides itself on its humane products, Justin Wm. Moyer reports for The Washington Post. The undercover worker from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, videotaped "images of pigs, some allegedly sick and not given appropriate care, crowded into hot pens and roughly handled by employees." (PETA photo: Pigs at Sweet Stem Farm in Lititz, Pa.)

The Sweet Stem Farm website states that "our pigs are free-roaming in spacious straw-bedded greenhouse-style hoop barns. The kind of farming we do is described variously as local, sustainable, humane and eco-friendly. Whichever term you use, it’s a way of life for us," Moyer writes. The site also says, “With our high-touch approach to animal care, we produce some of the best-tasting, humanely-raised pork, beef and lamb in our region.”

Sweet Stem Farm has been working with Whole Foods since 2007, Moyer writes. Sweet Stem is given a Step 2 rating by Whole Foods, which "means 'no crates, no cages, no crowding' Pigs are also supposed to be provided an 'enriched environment'—'like a bale of straw for chickens to peck at, a bowling ball for pigs to shove around or a sturdy object for cattle to rub against.'"

Whole Foods has stood by Sweet Stem, whose owners called the PETA video “deceit and distortion," Moyer writes. Michael Silverman, a Whole Foods spokesman, told the Post in an email: “We made a visit to the farm within hours of being informed about the PETA video to evaluate farm conditions and practices with our own eyes and gather the facts. We found that the farm conditions were in-line with GAP Step 2 certification. We did follow-up with the farm immediately regarding using the ear to restrain the pig so that a vaccine could be administered, and they agreed to stop that practice entirely.”

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