Investigators say they witnessed “deformed, diseased and dying” pigs in a centre producing meat for the El Pozo brand of meat products stocked by major stores, including Morrisons chorizo sausages.
In “sickening scenes of illegal cruelty”, filmed by Animal Equality, they saw:
- Numerous animals with infected abscesses, ulcers and giant hernias
- Pigs with severe deformities
- Flies and larvae on open wounds
- Animals living alongside others already dead and dying
- Pigs too weak to fight back when trampled on or cannibalised by others
- Tiny piglets slowly dying
- Skips overflowing with corpses
Animal Equality said that when it visited the Hermanos Carrasco, in the Murcia region last August, the farmer stated on film that meat goes into the human food chain and ultimately supplies Morrisons and Amazon UK.
Some of the photos were the most shocking ever taken on a European farm, the campaigners claimed. Toni Shephard, head of the group and one of the investigators, said: “As far as neglect goes, this is the worst I’ve ever seen. To leave so many animals suffering for days and weeks on end defies belief. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“We saw pigs deformed by giant hernias and abscesses, severely infected ulcers, cannibalism, dead animals in a state of putrefaction next to those still alive – all apparently without veterinary care.
“This farm is a scandal of negligence in the face of severe animal suffering. But also these diseased animals could be sent to the slaughterhouse and the parts considered ‘fit for human consumption’ and used in El Pozo products. I don’t doubt that in the UK there would be prosecutions.”
Ms Shephard said the investigation, carried out in conjunction with Salvados, a Spanish investigative television programme, found that on the farm of about 900 pigs, there were at least a dozen with multiple hernias, abscesses and emaciated, and that they were scattered among the group and in filthy conditions. The farmer told the investigation that the diseased animals were isolated but denied any were suffering, she said.
She described how she saw one pig with a growth so large that its rear legs could not touch the ground. “The sheer negligence doesn’t make any sense from an economic perspective – it’s crazy. Those pigs would have been in sheer agony for weeks on end. This level of negligence and cruelty on any farm, let alone one in the EU, is an absolute scandal.”
The campaign group said the farmer stated on film that meat from the farm, Hermanos Carrasco, in the Murcia region, supplied El Pozo.
Morrisons has El Pozo chorizo sausages on sale on its website, priced £2.64 – although the supermarket said that the farm no longer supplied the sausage brand. Two third-party Spanish Amazon Marketplace users have El Pozo products on sale, one of which is a set of cured meats for £49.99.
Ms Shephard said Spanish farms were subject to EU legislation on inspections but few are unannounced. The EU’s Food and Veterinary Office is in charge of health and hygiene inspections and enforcing animal welfare laws on farms.
The animal welfare group called on Spanish authorities to act on the findings and prosecute those involved.
After anger in Spain when the investigation aired on Sunday night, El Pozo issued a statement saying: “The animals that appear in the images of the report would never enter the production chain.” It said its vets inspect animals at farms before and after slaughter and that the footage was filmed in a monitored “sanitary recovery area” for animals that are diseased. Those that did not recover were slaughtered in accordance with the law, it said.
A spokesman for Morrisons said: “The welfare of animals is extremely important to us. The images in this video are deeply distressing and we are concerned to see the condition of these pigs. El Pozo have been clear that they stopped taking any animals from this farm last year.”
Amazon UK declined to comment.
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