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  • Artists & Activists

Smithfield Farms Gas Chambers Are Inhumane

Article credit: Mercy for Animals


Animal activists have just released the first hidden-camera footage taken inside a U.S. carbon dioxide “stunning chamber.” While these gas chambers are intended to painlessly render animals unconscious, the video shows pigs screaming and thrashing in agony as they die by asphyxiation. In October of last year, Raven Deerbrook of Direct Action Everywhere gained access to the Smithfield-owned Farmer John meatpacking plant. Located just outside Los Angeles, Farmer John is the largest pig slaughterhouse on the West Coast. Deerbrook descended 26 feet underground into the pit of a gas chamber and left three pinhole infrared cameras and microphones.


Initially released on StopGasChambers.org and in an exclusive scoop by WIRED, the disturbing footage shows pigs callously pushed into the chamber by a machine while a worker sprays them. The panicked pigs struggle to stand, jostling for space. The light dims, and the pigs begin to squeal. They thrash around the chamber, fighting to escape and convulsing for nearly a minute before becoming still. But Deerbrook said that the most horrific part may be the screaming:

"Pigs are very human-like in their screaming. And I wasn’t expecting to see them suffer for so long. I knew it was going to be bad. But I wasn’t really prepared for the screaming."

The pork industry likes to claim that this killing method is humane. According to Smithfield Foods’ website, the chambers result in a “painless loss of consciousness and death.” This footage reveals otherwise. In fact, after the video’s release, a group of 10 veterinarians signed an open letter to the American Veterinary Medical Association stating that these chambers likely violate U.S. animal slaughter laws. Jim Reynolds, a vet, and professor at Western University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said that the footage left him disturbed for days:

"Those animals suffered terribly. They suffered horribly. It was absolutely a violation of federal law. They were not stunned. It was inhumane. I’ve actually seen a lot of horrible videos. This is the worst I’ve ever seen. I’m not eating pork from the United States anymore until somebody fixes these problems."
"On Friday June 3, 2022, I was performing the humane handling task, stunning effectiveness, and noted the following. The CO2 stunner that is closest to the rail failed to stun 5 pigs (out of 8 total) that were dropped out of the machine's basket. The pigs were alert and breathing.."  

- USDA Inspector at Smithfield Foods


 

Factory farms and the widespread problems they cause are simply out of step with most people’s values. We can all promote a less violent, more compassionate, and more sustainable world just by choosing plant-based foods. It’s really that simple! Choose plant-based foods for seven days and discover the impact you can make simply by eating more kindly.

 
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