We’ve all done something embarrassing at work. When you spend most of your waking hours stressed out and surrounded by people you hardly know, it’s almost inevitable that awkwardness will at some point ensue. Usually, such situations revolve around a comical misunderstanding - something that you’ll look back on fondly in later years as you laugh in the pub on a Friday afternoon. It’s admittedly more difficult to laugh about it if the event in question involves your penis.
In a newly released video showing the inside of a Smithfield Foods factory in Smithfield, Virginia, an employee can clearly be seen casting around for onlookers, before removing his gloves, unbuttoning his overalls and taking a leak underneath the still moving meat. He then puts his gloves back on and gets back to work, with his colleagues none the wiser. Unfortunately, there just so happened to be a camera pointing right at him the entire time.
For Smithfield Foods - the largest pork meat producer on the planet - even a minor issue with production can mean losing millions of dollars. Obviously, pee on the conveyor belt is a few rungs up from “minor issue”. Small wonder, then, that the company acted swiftly and decisively to deal with their pee problem.
In an interview with WAVY TV, Smithfield Foods spokesperson Lisa Martin said that “In accordance with Smithfield’s food safety and quality standards, more than 50,000 pounds of product were disposed of following a swift internal investigation that revealed an employee had urinated at his station during the production process." She went on to add that "The facility immediately halted production, fully cleaned the processing line, and sanitised all equipment multiple times before resuming operation.”
Given the damning video evidence, it would be easy to point fingers at the employee and blame his weak bladder. However, a closer look at the wider meat packing industry makes the issue seem a whole lot murkier. In 2016, Oxfam America reported that some poultry processing workers were forced to wear nappies on the line, since they were forbidden from taking bathroom breaks. Without meaning to cast aspersions, it seems fairly unlikely that Smithfield Foods are themselves at the cutting edge of workers rights. It could be possible that something sinister is behind what could be a silly story.
At the end of the day, 50,000 pounds of pig is just a drop in the ocean for a business the size of Smithfield. At their slightly larger facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina, the meat giants are able to process an astonishing 30,000 hogs every single day. Even losing what is by any measure a massive amount of meat ultimately won’t make too much of a difference to the powers that be. Even after a debacle such as this, one thing remains clear. When it comes to pig production, Smithfield Farms remain Number 1 - in every sense.