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QPP makes changes after video shows mistreatment

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AUSTIN — Quality Pork Processors of Austin, which slaughters hogs for Hormel Foods, said it has made major changes in its processes after an undercover video showing the mistreatment of hogs.

Following release of the Compassion Over Killing video about five weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it saw "completely unacceptable" actions depicted on the video.

Compassion Over Killing said the video shot at the Austin plant shows workers taking "inhumane shortcuts that lead to extreme suffering" to keep the slaughter lines moving. "If USDA is around, they could shut us down," one worker can be heard saying on the video.

QPP immediately said it was disappointed in the "actions of some employees." The actions are isolated, and "we have taken swift and immediate action to reinforce our high standards and operating procedures in the animal care and welfare areas."

Last week, QPP said it has continued to improve. The changes came in part because of the video and also because of comments from Hormel, said Nate Jansen, vice president of human resources and quality services.

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"We want to assure Hormel Foods and all of its customers that we are adamant about proper care and handling of our animals and are committed to taking steps that will bring about positive changes, not only for QPP, but also for the industry as a whole," said Kelly Wadding, president of QPP. "In addition, our Animal Welfare Council continues to explore ways to go above and beyond industry standards related to animal welfare and handling,"

Changes include:

• Verification to monitor proper use of animal movement aides.

• Expanding third-party video verification auditing. QPP and Hormel can see the videos but it now also has an outside auditing firm looking at them; the firm specializes in that kind of work.

• Putting Hormel Foods Humane Handling Officers in all livestock areas to observe all animal handling in the operation.

• Improving animal movements so workers have to use fewer driving aides.

• Backup gates and non-slip flooring have been added.

• Continuing the development of new movement tools, including the use of a part of a swim noodle, the kind children often use in pools. The noodle is being tried instead of a harder tool.

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• Establishing the QPP Animal Welfare Council to evaluate the changes being made and ensure we are exceeding industry animal care standards.

Related Topics: AUSTIN
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