Undercover Investigation Into Italy’s Parma Ham Found Pigs Killed With Sledgehammers

Italian animal rights group Essere Animali released new undercover video from inside a factory farm supplying Parma, one of the largest prosciutto companies in the world, prompting the Ancona Public Prosecutor’s Office to open an animal cruelty investigation.

The heart-wrenching footage shows heaps of piglet corpses, pregnant sows being washed with a pressure washer, and sick animals being electric shocked and hit with iron pipes. The investigation also uncovered workers killing pigs by repeatedly striking them in the head with a sledgehammer and then leaving them to suffer for more than half an hour.


This isn’t the first time Essere Animali has released undercover footage of Parma suppliers abusing animals. In 2016, the group unveiled disgusting animal cruelty inside a supplier factory farm.

The undercover footage exposes sick pigs kicked and dragged into dark and dirty corridors where they’re left to die. It also reveals injured animals and animals with infected open wounds resulting from cannibalism, something that’s extremely common at factory farms due to overcrowding.

And Essere Animali isn’t the only animal rights organization to document cruelty inflicted for Parma. In an undercover investigation, Italian animal rights group Lega Anti Vivisezione (LAV) revealed pigs living in filthy sheds, suffering from untreated infections and injuries, and having their tails illegally cut off at six Italian factory farms that raise pigs for Parma.

Hidden-camera video shows pigs kept in squalid conditions, in dilapidated sheds with insufficient ventilation and failed water systems. Many animals are in desperate need of veterinary care, some too injured or weak to even move, and dead pigs are left on the floor for long periods. The pigs are confined entirely indoors and forced to stand and lie in their own waste. Some pigs chew at the ears, muzzles, and limbs of other pigs—behavior that stems from the abusive, overcrowded conditions that deprive these animals of the space and freedom to move and explore.

Parma ham—the most popular type of Italian prosciutto—is sold worldwide as a specialty product, but Essere Animali’s and LAV’s investigations expose a system of abuse that many consumers would not expect. According to campaigners, however, these conditions are typical and part of “the shocking reality for many pigs farmed in the EU.

As Mercy For Animals undercover investigations have repeatedly shown, the pork industry is rife with torturous conditions for these smart, sensitive animals in the U.S. and Canada as well.

Pigs raised and killed for food are taken from their mothers at just 10 days old and have their tails cut off, their teeth ground down, and their testicles ripped out without any painkillers. Piglets who are too sick or not growing fast enough are often gruesomely killed by being slammed headfirst onto concrete floors. Surviving piglets are packed together into filthy pens.

While pigs in nature live for about 15 years, at factory farms they are selectively bred to grow extremely fast, reaching slaughter size in just six months. Sows are repeatedly impregnated and confined in gestation crates, barren metal cages so small the animals are unable to turn around.

After a life of torment, pigs are brutally slaughtered by being hoisted upside down and having their throats cut.

If we wouldn’t treat dogs or cats in such appalling ways, how can we pay the meat industry to treat pigs this way? Each of us has the power to say no to animal abuse by replacing inherently cruel animal products with compassionate vegan alternatives.

Get started today.