Hormel stops operations at supplier farm after video shows animal abuse

(Attention: An earlier version of this story published on Jan. 31 carried an incorrect photo of a brand not involved with the abuse detailed in the story. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.)

Hormel hams are seen for sale in Westminster, Colorado February 17, 2015. Hormel Foods Corp will report its fiscal first-quarter 2015 results on February 19, 2015 before the market opens. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

(Reuters) - Packaged foods maker Hormel Foods Corp HRL.N said on Tuesday that it had suspended operations at one its pork suppliers in Oklahoma until it investigates claims that pigs were being abused at the farm.

Animal rights group Mercy for Animals released a video publicly on Tuesday that showed large number of pigs and piglets constrained in small spaces, being treated cruelly and left to suffer from injuries and illnesses without veterinary care.

The video, which is 2 minutes and 26 seconds long and is available on YouTube and on Mercy for Animals’ website, was part of the group’s undercover investigation at the Maschhoffs farm.

Hormel said it would send third-party auditors to investigate the claims made in the video.

“We have issued a suspension of all the Maschhoffs, LLC Oklahoma sow operations while a thorough investigation is completed”, Hormel said.

The Maschhoffs farm said in a statement that they had begun their own investigation into the events depicted in the video, and that they would re-train all employees in Oklahoma on proper production procedures.

This is not the first instance that an animal activist group has released a video showing animals being treated cruelly at a Hormel supplier.

In 2015, Compassion Over Killing released a video showing workers at a Quality Pork Processors Inc plant beating, dragging and slitting the throats of live animals.

Hormel also said on Tuesday that its company-owned farm will be gestation crate free in the next 30 days.

(This story corrects timing of release in second paragraph to Tuesday from last week.)

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza