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Animal rights protesters project images of dying pigs at San Francisco Costco

PIX Now 08:13

SAN FRANCISCO -- Animal rights activists protested at a San Francisco Costco store on Wednesday, projecting video of pigs dying in a Southern California slaughterhouse, prompting a response early Thursday from a food company executive.

The activists with Direct Action Everywhere called on Costco to drop Smithfield Foods as a supplier. The video was recorded secretly after an activist planted cameras inside a pit at the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, owned by Smithfield Foods. 

The footage, projected Wednesday evening onto the Costco Wholesale store on 10th Street in the city's South of Market neighborhood, showed pigs thrashing as they are gassed with carbon dioxide. While the footage was shown, audio was played of the pigs screaming through speakers across the street.

Image projected onto Costco building in San Francisco, January 18, 2023. Bay City News via Direct Action Everywhere

Activists maintain the company is violating the Humane Slaughter Act, a federal law that aims to decrease the suffering of livestock during slaughter.

On Thursday, Jim Monroe, vice president of corporate affairs at Smithfield Foods in Smithfield, Va., issued a five-sentence statement refuting the claims.

"Smithfield is committed to the safety, health and comfort of our animals and strictly follows approved laws, regulations and best practices for humane animal stunning prior to harvest," Monroe said. "We adhere to all humane handling and stunning regulations for livestock with the oversight of the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service."

Monroe defended the practice of gassing livestock in his statement:

"The USDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and many other authorities on animal health recognize carbon dioxide stunning as a humane stunning method for food animals," he said. "Carbon dioxide stunning quickly renders hogs into a state of analgesia." 

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