Smithfields Foods SEC complaint

The Humane Society of the United States has lodged a legal complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that Smithfield Foods, a pork supplier to fast food chain McDonald’s, is making misleading claims about its corporate responsibility practices.

The complaint, coming just 24 hours after Smithfield launched its new corporate responsibility website, alleges that in a series of videos posted on the company’s YouTube channel, Smithfield claims it has higher animal welfare and environmental standards than it actually does.

In one video Smithfield says that it provides animals with “ideal” living conditions and that their animals’ “every need is met.” HSUS has questioned the validity of such claims saying that the company and its subsidiary Murphy Brown continue to confine breeding sows in gestation crates that it says severely limit their movement.

According to HSUS, McDonald’s and Smithfield’s own animal welfare advisor, Dr. Temple Grandin, has stated that gestation crates “are a real problem” and “have to go.”

Federal securities law prohibits the making of any false statement of a material fact or the omission of a material fact that would prevent a statement from being misleading, HSUS says.

In 2010, Smithfield committed to reducing energy and water resources and solid waste by 10 percent by fiscal 2016, compared to 2008 levels, according to its corporate social responsibility report.