Target: Jack Lew, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States
Goal: Stop the Smithfield Foods and Shuanghui International Holdings merger until both companies eradicate animal, environmental, and food safety abuses
From 12,000 dead hogs in Shanghai to the mysterious exploding fecal matter of hogs in the U.S., there are many problems that arise from industrialized hog production. So now that China’s largest meat processor, Shuanghui International Holdings is set to purchase America’s largest hog producer and processor, Smithfield Foods, one can only expect an expansion of practices that lead to pigs being subjugated under conditions that breed bacteria and disease. As the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) conducts a review of the sale, tell CFIUS to block the merger between these two hog industry conglomerates based on concerns of both animal welfare and food safety.
The main problem with this merger is that the problematic effects of the hog factory industry will only be expanded, with no consideration of regulation. The US Department of Agriculture has recently been under fire for its lack of effectiveness in inspecting and identifying violations of food safety regulations. The USDA’s Office of the Inspector General, (OIG) served as the USDA’s watchdog group and found “egregious” offenses like “fecal matter on previously cleaned carcasses.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said, “Just as Chinese consumers question the safety and security of their food supply, so should we as public officials on behalf of American consumers.” These concerns are warranted since Shuanghui has had to recall pork due to contamination from clenbuterol, a feed additive. But even Smithfield is guilty of using a similar additive called ractopamine, which is already banned in China and Russia.
The implications of foreign ownership over the largest pork producer in America’s meat supply is unknown. Shuanghui has made assurances that nothing will change once the takeover is completed in terms of factories staying open and food safety regulation, and therein lies the problem. This merger will only empower hog factory conglomerates to keep doing what they are doing: feeding pigs antibiotics, contaminating waterways, and continuing cruel slaughter practices. Oppose the expansion of this poorly regulated industry until both companies make efforts to correct environmental and animal welfare offenses.
Dear US Secretary of the Treasury and chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States Jack Lew,
The US Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General recently filed a report citing violations in hundreds of slaughterhouses including diseased animals, filthy living conditions, waterway contamination, and inhumane slaughter practices. With these kinds of issues rampant in America’s own hog industry, the proposed merger between Smithfield Foods and Shuanghui International Holdings will only serve to exacerbate these problems. What the hog industry needs is regulation before expansion, which is why I urge you to bar the sale of Smithfield Foods.
Shuanghui has made the assurance that nothing about Smithfield operations will change once the merger is complete. However, change is exactly what Smithfield needs. For example, Smithfield still uses the dangerously unhealthy feed additive ractopamine, which is then consumed by Americans. This particular additive has already been banned in Russia and China. Shuanghui has also been caught in a food safety scandal when traces of the feed additive clenbuterol was found, causing a recall of the tainted meat.
The meat production industry as a whole is in need of more regulation and enforcement, and a merger between the largest pork producers in the world is a step in the wrong direction. Smithfield and Shuanghui should work to improve animal welfare, environmental responsibility, and food safety before there is any talk of expansion.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Humane Society of the United States via Wikimedia Commons