On the evening of January 18, 2023, a projected video clip of dying pigs in an LA slaughterhouse lit up the side of a San Francisco Costco store.
It was part of a new campaign from Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). The animal rights group obtained the footage after planting hidden cameras inside the Smithfield-owned Farmer John slaughterhouse. It showed pigs thrashing, gasping, and screaming while being gassed with a 90 percent concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2).
According to federal prosecutor Bonnie Klapper, who reviewed the video, this method is in violation of the Humane Slaughter Act. The act states that CO2 gas can only be used if it accomplishes “anesthesia quickly and calmly, with a minimum of excitement and discomfort to the animals.”
DxE is calling on Costco to drop Smithfield as a supplier. It’s also urging US authorities to end CO2 gassing.
Smithfield denies any wrongdoing. Jim Monroe, the company’s vice president of corporate affairs, stated: “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. Carbon dioxide stunning quickly renders hogs into a state of analgesia.”
Carbon dioxide gassing
Despite Smithfield’s claim, carbon dioxide gassing is widely believed to be an inhumane method of killing.
The high concentration of CO2 forms a carbonic acid on wet surfaces it touches, including pigs’ eyes, lungs, and throats. Experts have said that this means they “burn from the inside out.” It can take up to 60 seconds for them to go unconscious. Carbon dioxide gassing is routinely used in many other countries, including the UK, where around 86 percent are subjected to this method.
The vast majority of people have no idea about the reality of how pigs are killed, with most countries using vague language about “humane” methods of slaughter.
“Smithfield gets away with concealing animal suffering in gas chambers because the USDA and companies like Costco willfully look away,” said Raven Deerbrook, the DxE activist who planted the hidden cameras. “That’s why people like me have to go to these terrifying places to show you what no one else will.”
Direct Action Everywhere’s campaign
This action was part of DxE’s Stop Gas Chambers campaign, which aims to put an end to the CO2 gassing method.
A few days after the Costco action, activists gathered outside USDA headquarters in Berkeley, CA. Deerbrook entered the building and spoke with director Mr. Bill Orts, giving him a USB drive that contained the footage. She also presented him with a printed letter containing more than 1,500 signatures calling on the USDA to take action.
Visit StopGasChambers.Org for more information.