Pork producer Smithfield Foods continues phase-out of gestation crates for pregnant pigs


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SMITHFIELD, Virginia — Smithfield Foods says it is continuing to make progress on ending the practice of keeping female hogs in small metal crates while pregnant at its U.S. facilities.

The world's largest pork producer said Tuesday its Murphy-Brown subsidiary has moved more than 70 percent of its pregnant sows from the crates to group housing at its about 450 farms.

Smithfield has been criticized for continuing to breed sows in the crates that severely restrict the animals' movement.

The Smithfield, Virginia-based company has said it plans to phase out the crates at its U.S. facilities by 2017 and at its international hog production operations by 2022.

The Humane Society of the United States had filed a federal complaint in 2011 saying Smithfield was misleading consumers by suggesting it does not abuse pigs.

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