PETA: Animal abuse seen at Smithfield pig supplier

A crossbred gilt pig moves through the pens at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado January 16, 2007. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it had documented cruelty to pigs at a supplier for meat company Smithfield Foods Inc. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

NEW YORK (Reuters) - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it had documented cruelty to pigs at a supplier for U.S. meat company Smithfield Foods Inc.

After an undercover investigation, PETA said late on Tuesday that it had discovered workers at Murphy Family Ventures of Wallace, North Carolina, might have violated state laws against cruelty to animals.

The group said it had videotaped evidence of workers who hit and jabbed pigs in the face with metal gate rods, dragged injured animals, and denied them treatment for injuries.

PETA said it had given the video footage, which it posted on its Web site, and other evidence from its investigation to a North Carolina district attorney and urged him to file charges under North Carolina’s anti-cruelty rule.

Representatives from Smithfield and Murphy-Brown, which owns the supplier, were not immediately available for comment.

But Murphy-Brown spokesman Don Butler told the Associated Press that although the company had not received PETA’s allegations formally, it would conduct an internal investigation into the matter and take any appropriate actions.

PETA is calling on the Smithfield to pressure the supplier to fire workers who were responsible for the abuse. If Murphy fails to do so, the organization is asking Smithfield to sever ties with the company.

PETA also wants Smithfield to phase out metal-and-concrete stalls, which immobilize sows for months at a time, at its suppliers and its own facilities.

Reporting by Emily Chasan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn