Meatingplace | Smithfield’s sustainability claims challenged in FTC complaint

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Food & Water Watch and other consumer advocacy groups on Thursday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the body to enjoin Smithfield Foods from making “false claims” about its pork products and how the company produces them.

The complaint alleges that Smithfield is misleading consumers by falsely marketing and advertising its products as having been produced in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.

“Smithfield’s marketing paints a pastoral picture of environmentally sustainable conditions when, in reality, the company’s products are the result of highly industrialized, dangerous, and extractive practices that recklessly pollute the environment and harm local communities,” the complaint alleges.

Smithfield defended its practices, saying the allegations in the complaint are false.

“This letter, from groups that repeatedly attack agricultural companies and farmers, contains false allegations and is without merit,” said Keira Lombardo, Smithfield’s chief administrative officer, in a statement emailed to Meatingplace. “We remain focused on providing safe, affordable food while pursuing our ambitious sustainability goals from coast to coast.”

Joining Food & Water Watch as petitioners are Cape Fear River Watch, Dakota Rural Action, Family Farm Action Alliance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, and Socially Responsible Agriculture Project.

They’re asking the FTC to make Smithfield remove “misleading” marketing claims, stop making such claims in the future, and disseminate corrective statements in media.