After exposing Smithfield’s environmental depredations and inhumane practices, Rolling Stone noted that the company was expanding into Eastern Europe. Well, Smithfield’s shit has hit the fan again: Earlier this month, Romanian officials disclosed that an outbreak of swine fever at a Smithfield operation in Romania had killed 20,000 pigs. A few weeks earlier, 3,500 pigs had been reported dead, but officials then claimed it was from excessive heat and a bacterial illness; an opposition lawmaker is already arguing there’s been a cover-up.
Swine fever, which is harmless to humans but fatal to pigs, is so contagious that the dead pigs will be buried beneath clay, rocks, and disinfectant. In other words, if it got loose, the viral infection would be devastating to Romania’s hog farmers. The fever—a known problem in the country, although it had been lying low for the last several years—can be transmitted by contaminated birds or flies, but also by the excrement of infected animals or infected pork that’s fed to the pigs.
Given Smithfield’s record, it is difficult to be sanguine about the cause, an opinion reflected by the Ethicurean, which highlights the story and calls out a recent Official Smithfield Booster: “Yoo hoo Paula Deen—are these your ‘family values’?”