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Humane Society accuses pork producers of deceptive marketing

Organization filed complaint with the FTC over animal well-being

The Humane Society filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming the National Pork Producers Council is using deceptive marketing with regard to the well-being of animals.

In its complaint, the Humane Society says the Pork Council makes deceptive claims when describing two of its programs: “We Care” and “Pork Quality Assurance Plus” (PQAP). The society says the council’s claims in marketing materials about the programs are “riddled with numerous false claims regarding the welfare of pigs, including the trade group’s patently false claim that PQAP program helps to ensure that all animals in the pork industry continue to receive humane care and handling.”

According to the National Pork Producers Council, “We Care” is “a joint effort of the Pork Checkoff, through the National Pork Board, and the National Pork Producers Council, to help demonstrate that producers are accountable to established ethical principles and animal well-being practices.” The PQAP, the council says, “is a producer-education and certification program to reduce the risk of violative animal health-product residues in pork.”

The Humane Society’s biggest complaint is over the pork industry’s alleged use small gestation crates that house pregnant sows. "The pork industry spends millions misleading the public about its animal-welfare record, while allowing pigs to be crammed into tiny gestation crates where they can't even turn around for months on end," Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal-protection litigation at Humane Society, said in a statement. "Rather than investing in real animal-welfare reforms, the Pork Council is betting the farm on a deceptive PR campaign designed to mislead consumers with false assurances." The society’s complaint claims that about 70 percent of U.S. breeding sows are confined in crates "so small the animals can barely move for their entire lives."

The council says the claims are “absolutely false” and it will “vigorously defend” the allegations against it.

Read more about the Humane Society’s complaint on AdAge.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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