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INVESTIGATION: Cruelty Found at Celebrated Pig Slaughterhouse in Italy

June 11, 2021

Animal Equality has released an investigation that documents what happens to pigs inside an Italian slaughterhouse, revealing the terrible cruelty that animals within these places are subjected to.

THE DETAILS: The investigation was filmed at Zema Srl slaughterhouse located in the province of Cremona—a facility known for its “quality” products, as well as being a representative company of “Made in Italy” marketing, both in Italy and abroad. Of the more than 800,000 pigs raised in the Cremona area, about 150,000 a year (about 19%) wind up at this slaughterhouse. 

WHAT WE FOUND: Although the company promotes itself as caring about animal welfare and protections, the scenes captured by our investigators at Zema’s slaughterhouse tell a very different story. In one of the most tragic sequences, we film a worker who repeatedly hits a pig in the head with an iron rod, throws it against a wall, and then throws the body of the dying animal over the fence. We found many other examples of brutal practices that took place daily at this facility, including: 

  • Animals falling from transport trucks onto the concrete without exit ramps
  • Workers committing abuse and mistreatment against pigs, including kicking, striking with rods, and dragging some animals by their ears or legs   
  • Ineffective or inadequate stunning, as some animals were mutilated while still conscious (in the videos you can see some pigs placed on the conveyor belt with their legs partially detached and mutilated) 
  • Animals slaughtered still conscious or inadequately in the case of piglets, which end up feeling enormous pain during the killing and bleeding phase 
  • The videos reveal how animals were placed in the stunning cage as a group, in violation of animal welfare rules which require each animal to be stunned individually 

COMPLAINTS FILED: Following the discovery of these abuses in April 2020, we filed two animal welfare complaints in Italy to the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as a complaint filed for misleading advertising. Despite these official filings, nothing has changed and there has been no official feedback from local authorities. 

WHAT WE’RE SAYING: “Our latest investigation has once again highlighted the mistreatment and brutality suffered by farmed animals within industrial agriculture, and shows the total lack of compliance with animal welfare laws and regulations. We cannot accept this ongoing situation, and we will continue to work so that animal rights are truly protected,” said Alice Trombetta, Executive Director of Animal Equality Italy.

OUR WORK SO FAR: In December 2017, Animal Equality launched a petition in Italy addressed to the Ministries of Health and Agriculture to put an end to the systemic cruelty that occurs every day at Italian slaughterhouses. The campaign has so far been signed by over 200,000 Italian citizens who are asking for more regulations, the introduction of surveillance systems such as CCTV, and the mandatory stunning of animals without exceptions.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: Each of our investigations reveals that this cruelty is rampant throughout animal agriculture, no matter where the facility is located. The best thing you can do for animals is to leave them off your plate—change begins with compassionate consumer choices and the more people who deny the factory farming industry the opportunity to profit off animal cruelty the better. Share the knowledge of investigations like this one is also helpful, and hopefully will lead to more people who are better informed about these tragic issues.


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