Tyson Foods, the largest meat producer in the United States, says it will now impose new guidelines for its pork suppliers following the release of undercover footage revealing disturbing acts of animal abuse.

According to NBC News, which originally aired video of pigs and piglets being kicked, hit, and slammed onto the ground on a farm partnered with Tyson, the company will now require more humane treatment for pigs -- including providing them with larger cages, and insisting they use “pain mitigation" techniques during castration and tail docking.

Also, Tyson asks that piglets no longer be killed with blunt force, a method the company insists “has been historically acceptable” but that must be altered due to pesky “customer expectation.” Farms must install cameras as well to ensure proper procedure is in practice.

“We’re trying to balance the expectations of consumers with the realities of today’s hog farming business,” says a letter sent by Tyson to its farms. “We look forward to working with you on our current challenges.”

Mercy For Animals, the group responsible for the covertly acquired footage, says that Tyson’s move towards more humane treatment for its pigs is a step in the right direction, and hopefully part of a growing trend in animal welfare standards in an industry riddled with abuses.

"It’s heartening that Tyson has finally begun to address the rampant and horrific cruelty uncovered at its factory farm facilities by Mercy For Animals," says Nathan Runkle, the group’s executive director.

“The announcement that Tyson is making significant animal welfare improvements, including urging its pork producers to move away from inherently cruel and restrictive gestation crates, signals an important new era and direction for the company.”

ACTION ALERT: Factory Farming/Humane Eating
An increasing number of people are concerned about the industrial production of meat -- the environmental impact, the potential health drawbacks and the needless suffering of millions of animals. If you are interested in trying to find meat that has not been produced in a factory farm, try Sustainable Table’s Eat Well Guide. The USDA provides this guide to finding local farmers markets.You can also shop products that have the Animal Welfare Approved sticker, or a number label from the Global Animal Partnership (5 is the hightest and best). The different labels can be confusing, though -- the HSUS created this helpful primer on the major ones. For humanely gathered eggs, we recommend this organic scorecard; for fish, the Monterey Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is a great guide. (Of course, the most humane meat is no meat at all -- here are some great tips on vegetarian and vegan eating.)