Walmart Gets Heat for Animal Cruelty in Supply Chain
Posted on August 30, 2012 by jway
Walmart is in hot water for irresponsible sourcing again. This time its suppliers are accused of animal cruelty.
Minnesota-based Christensen Family Farms, the third largest pork producer in the country, is the subject of an investigative video released by an animal rights group in Los Angeles. Shot with a hidden camera in December 2011, the footage shows grotesque cruelty at a Christensen facility, including filthy enclosures, mutilation of piglets without pain-killers, untreated wounds, and workers killing pigs by slamming their heads against concrete floors.
More and more, Walmart finds itself on an island when it comes to its tolerance of one practice in particular: the use of gestation crates, which are small metal enclosures where breeding sows may be kept for their entire adult lives. The crates are being quickly being phased out in Europe, and have already been banned in a number of states, including Florida, Arizona and California. Large grocers like Costco, Safeway and Kroger have asked their suppliers to give up the practice. However, Walmart, which has captured 21% of the national grocery share, has made no such pledge.
Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the company’s track record with holding suppliers accountable. In July, the Labor Department ordered CJ’s Seafood, a Walmart seafood supplier based in Beaux-bridge, Louisiana, to pay $250,000 in fines and unpaid wages. The final tally included $34,000 in OSHA fines for 11 serious safety violations and $76,608 in back pay to 73 workers for “paying less than the minimum wage, not paying overtime for working more than 40 hours a week, and illegally deducting wages for items required to do the job, including gloves, hairnets and aprons.”
The group behind the Christensen Farms video, Mercy for Animals, has planned pickets in over a dozen Southern cities, including Mobile, Tallahassee, Tampa, Savannah, Gainesville, Fort Myers, and Miami. At previous events, the group has shown up at Walmart stores with signs, banners, and a ten-foot inflatable pig trapped in a cage.
This post was written by Kurt Scott.