If you’re a cult follower of the McRib and can hardly wait to bite into the special sandwich with the special sauce, just take a few moments to realize what you are actually eating. An embittered battle between Smithfield Foods who supplies McDonalds with the pork and the HSUS who did an undercover study last year and exposed the most egregious handling of live pigs and piglets, has everyone coming out of their corners ready to fight.
The Humane Society of the United States filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Smithfield Foods are making false claims concerning animal welfare and environmental conditions. Smithfield Foods in their newly launched website, ironically coinciding with the McRib campaign, states their pigs live in ideal conditions “where every need is met.” In reality, the female pigs live in gestation crates where they cannot move and will stay there for the rest of their lives until they can no longer produce babies.
Federal securities law prohibits false and misleading statements.
Smithfield Foods has 888,000 sows and sends 17 million pigs a year to slaughter. Last year’s HSUS undercover video at a Virginia factory farm owned by a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods showed disturbing photographs of pigs in gestation crates and the effects of the extreme confinement. Pigs were bleeding from their mouths, had pressure sores, electric rods were used to move ailing animals, mishandling of piglets and live animals thrown into dumpsters could distress even the most stoic McRib lovers. Many of the animals presented with abscesses harboring bacteria.
Dr. Temple Grandin, a reknown authority on livestock behavior and designer of facilities for humane slaughter stated:
“Gestation crates are a real problem. Basically you’re asking a sow to live in an airline seat. I think it’s something that needs to be phased out.”
The HSUS video at Smithfield Foods also showed pigs castrated, tails trimmed, and teeth extracted with no painkillers. Pigs are regarded as sentient creatures who feel pain similar to humans. Pigs are considered as intelligent as dogs.
Many other producers have since reduced or eliminated gestation crates. Smithfield stated at one time they were going to phase them out; that has not yet been done. Whole Food Markets, Burger King, Wendy’s, Quiznos, Safeway, and even chef Wolfgang Puck will not use pork suppliers that continue to use such egregious practices.
In response to the HSUS complaint, the New York Daily News reported that Smithfield Foods denied the allegations and contend they stand behind their website concerning animal care and environmental safety and sustainability.
But for those “McRibites” who just shrug their shoulders at agricultural animal cruelty and abuse, there’s still more to consider before biting into that mystery part of a pig. Of course, everyone has figured out there are really no “mc ribs” to chomp down on since bones tend to choke people – the real truth is that the “McFib” is made of pig intestines, hearts and scalded stomachs.
Even worse are the chemical ingredients used which are azodicarbonamide, an agent banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive and used to make yoga mats, and soles of shoes, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80.
The McRib doesn’t seem to make sense of having “it your way” now does it?