The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) filed a lawsuit last week against Smithfield Foods for falsely advertising that the pork processor’s products are the “safest” U.S. pork products.
“Consumers are unlikely to know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has notified Smithfield slaughter plants on multiple occasions that their pork was more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella than similar products in slaughter plants of the same size,” says Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s co-founder and director.
“Failure to report these notifications to consumers is one thing. But claiming that its products are the ‘safest’ possible pork products in the U.S. is a blatant misrepresentation of the brand’s actual safety record,” Cummins says. “The current heightened consumer concern about safety in the meat industry is all the more reason to hold Smithfield accountable for false safety claims.”
The lawsuit alleges that the USDA's own testing of Smithfield’s pork products has detected pathogens that are “commonly associated with human illness” and resistant to antibiotics. According to OCA, this makes Smithfield’s products “far less than the safest possible in the U.S.”
The complaint goes on to say that many disease strains detected in Smithfield’s products have been found to be resistant to antibiotics that are designated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as “highly important” or even “critically important” for human health.
Finally, OCA claims that Smithfield employs production practices that result in less safe conditions and products, including crowded conditions, the use of potentially carcinogenic drugs, and rapid slaughter methods. Such practices contribute to the emergence of widespread diseases, including those that can be transmitted from animals to humans, says OCA.
See OCA’s full complaint at OrganicConsumers.org.