UPDATE: Tyson Foods Reforms Policies After Undercover Pig Abuse - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

UPDATE: Tyson Foods Reforms Policies After Undercover Pig Abuse Video

Posted: Updated:
NBCNEWS.COM - The nation’s largest meat producer has announced new animal care guidelines for its pork suppliers a month and a half after NBC News showed the company undercover video of workers on one of its farms kicking and hitting pigs and slamming piglets into the ground.

On Wednesday, Tyson Foods sent a letter to suppliers requiring that some farms stop using blunt force euthanasia to kill piglets and urging that all its suppliers keep sows in larger cages, install video cameras in sow farms, and adopt “pain mitigation” methods when castrating piglets or docking their tails.

In its letter, Tyson said it recognized that killing piglets with blunt force “has been historically acceptable” to the meat industry, “but may not match the expectations of today’s customers or consumers.” “We’re trying to balance the expectations of consumers with the realities of today’s hog farming business,” said the letter, which was signed by a senior vice president and the vice president who runs the company’s Animal Well-Being Programs.

“We look forward to working with you on our current challenges.”Though the letter encourages all suppliers to adopt a different form of euthanasia, its order to end blunt force euthanasia applies only to contract farms, meaning farms where Tyson owns the animals and the farm owner supplies meat to the company under contract.

All other guidelines in the letter are recommendations. The head of the animal rights group that shot the undercover video applauded the company’s change in policy. "It’s heartening that Tyson has finally begun to address the rampant and horrific cruelty uncovered at its factory farm facilities by Mercy For Animals," said Nathan Runkle, executive director of the group. “The announcement that Tyson is making significant animal welfare improvements, including urging its pork producers to move away from inherently cruel and restrictive gestation crates, signals an important new era and direction for the company,” said Runkle. “We urge Tyson to add more teeth to the new guidelines by making them a mandate for all of its pork producers, rather than a mere recommendation.”

Gestation crates are metal enclosures two feet wide and six-and-a-half feet long widely used by pig farmers to house sows during pregnancy. Gary Mickelson, director of public relations for Tyson Foods, said the company had “tried to make it clear that we have not taken a position against any particular type of sow housing, including gestation stalls.” Asked whether the new set of animal care policies was spurred by the MFA video, he said the timing “was not due to any one incident or organization.”

In November, Tyson Foods terminated its contract with West Coast Farms of Okfuskee County, Okla., after NBC showed the company video shot by an activist from Mercy for Animals. The activist worked undercover as a farmhand from mid-September to mid-October.

The undercover worker who shot the video, “Pete,” told NBC News that abuse was “commonplace and constant” at West Coast Farms. He said that it included hitting, kicking, throwing, striking animals with the edges of wooden boards, sticking fingers in their eyes, and leaving piglets to die slowly after they were slammed into the ground “in failed euthanasia attempts.” According to Pete, some of the piglets were alive 30 minutes after being slammed into the ground.

The owner of the farm said that the video showed "mistreatment" of animals and said he had taken action of his own. “I was stunned that anyone could be that callous in their treatment of any animal," said Lonnie Herring. "After viewing the video, I immediately returned to my farm and terminated the employees seen in the video."

Herring also said that his farm used approved methods of euthanasia on animals, and that the animals were euthanized in a humane fashion. He also said his workers were “trained and instructed” that they must verify an animal is dead “before [they] leave that animal.”“It is a part of the business and there are prescribed methods of euthanasia and I follow those to a T,” said Herring.Tyson Foods owned the sows and boars on the farm, while Herring owns the farm itself and provided meat to Tyson under contract.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS: Priest Lake lots auctioned off

    PHOTOS: Priest Lake lots auctioned off

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:46 PM EDT2014-08-29 00:46:58 GMT
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - 61 cottages sites on Priest Lake were auctioned off in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. >>
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - 61 cottages sites on Priest Lake were auctioned off in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. For years, those already living on the sites leased the land from the State of Idaho, but the State was looking to sell. Residents already living on the sites showed up on Thursday to buy them back, and many were successful. 


    >>
  • Viral Video: Little boy's hysterical response to mother's pregnancy

    Viral Video: Little boy's hysterical response to mother's pregnancy

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-08-29 14:29:39 GMT
    KHQ.COM - When Shanee Gibson Hart of Fort Lewis, Washington, shared the news about her pregnancy with her son, Tré, she thought he would be thrilled. Instead, his reaction was a little different than expected. "This is exasperating!" Tré exclaimed. "Why you want to get another baby?...That doesn't make no sense!">>
    KHQ.COM - When Shanee Gibson Hart of Fort Lewis, Washington, shared the news about her pregnancy with her son, Tré, she thought he would be thrilled. Instead, his reaction was a little different than expected. "This is exasperating!" Tré exclaimed. "Why you want to get another baby?...That doesn't make no sense!"
    >>
  • Priest Lake Auction: Saying goodbye to home

    Priest Lake Auction: Saying goodbye to home

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:50 PM EDT2014-08-28 02:50:23 GMT
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - After years of obstacles for 61 Priest Lake lot lessees, the end comes on Thursday, August 28th. >>
    PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - After years of obstacles for 61 Priest Lake lot lessees, the end comes on Thursday, August 28th. People who have been leasing land from the state, some more than 40 years, will find out if they get to keep their property in an auction.Back in 2010, the State of Idaho decided to divest more than 300 lake lots on Priest Lake.
    >>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: Joan Rivers 'Resting Comfortably' at Mount Sinai in New York

    UPDATE: Joan Rivers 'Resting Comfortably' at Mount Sinai in New York

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 AM EDT2014-08-29 04:45:02 GMT
    NEW YORK (AP) - Comedian Joan Rivers is in a New York City hospital, according to police and hospital officials who say she was rushed there from a doctor's office after going into cardiac arrest.Rivers' daughter later issued a statement about her mother's condition.>>
    NEW YORK (AP) - Comedian Joan Rivers is in a New York City hospital, according to police and hospital officials who say she was rushed there from a doctor's office after going into cardiac arrest.Rivers' daughter later issued a statement about her mother's condition.
    >>
  • VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 9:11 PM EDT2014-08-27 01:11:37 GMT
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...>>
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...>>
  • UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    Monday, August 25 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-08-25 22:58:27 GMT
    Police officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in VirginiaPolice officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in Virginia
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her.>>
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her. Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons says the soldier went on a rampage, throwing objects. >>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • All WA, ID, MT, Albertsons stores affected by security breach

    All WA, ID, MT, Albertsons stores affected by security breach

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:37 PM EDT2014-08-29 23:37:54 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Earlier this month Albertsons announced a data breach affecting customers who shopped in their stores any time between June 22, 2014 and July 17, 2014. >>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Earlier this month Albertsons announced a data breach affecting customers who shopped in their stores any time between June 22, 2014 and July 17, 2014. Before Friday, it was unclear which stores were impacted, but fraud investigators with AB Acquisition LLC, the company Albertsons is using to provide complimentary consumer identity protection services to customers, says that the breach impacts all stores in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.>>
  • PHOTOS: Hobo Spider season has arrived

    PHOTOS: Hobo Spider season has arrived

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:37 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:37:17 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Mid August is about the time that we start to see spiders come into our homes, particularly the hobo spider. August and September is mating season for the hobo and that means you may be seeing more funnel-like webs in and around your home. Males are on a mission to find a female which is why they are a lot more active at this time.>>
    KHQ.COM - Mid August is about the time that we start to see spiders come into our homes, particularly the hobo spider. August and September is mating season for the hobo and that means you may be seeing more funnel-like webs in and around your home. Males are on a mission to find a female which is why they are a lot more active at this time.
    >>
  • Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls

    Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls

    Friday, August 29 2014 3:22 PM EDT2014-08-29 19:22:12 GMT
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The following was sent out by the Internal Revenue Service:The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS. >>
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The following was sent out by the Internal Revenue Service:The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS. These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. >>