Students protest alleged inhumane animal treatment at Cal Dining supplier

Photo of protest of Cal Dining pork suppliers, Seaboard Foods
Direct Action Everywhere/Courtesy
UC Berkeley students protest at Sather Gate against alleged animal cruelty practices taking place at Seaboard Foods, which supplies pork to Cal Dining facilities.

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Approximately two dozen students gathered Wednesday morning on Sproul Plaza with a sign reading “Stop pandemics” and “Ban meat” in protest of alleged inhumane animal treatment at one of Cal Dining’s pork suppliers.

According to a press release from animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, the protest comes after Zoe Rosenberg, UC Berkeley freshman and DxE organizer, released a video she took at campus supplier Seaboard Foods.

The video shows “piglets squealing as they are smashed, as well as pigs with bloody sores and rampant disease,” the press release states.

For the duration of the protest, Rosenberg and two other students chained themselves to Sather Gate and held dead piglets they said they got from the Seaboard Foods farm.

According to Rosenberg, Seaboard Foods is contributing to the spread of disease. DxE conducted testing at Seaboard Foods and found salmonella, porcine circovirus and streptococcus porcinus, Rosenberg said in an email.

“All I want is to see the sun shine upon a better world … a world where people like me who are chronically ill can leave our homes safely without having to fear for our lives,” Rosenberg said at the protest. “That world does not have meat being served in your dining halls.”

Rosenberg said in the email that she wants campus to stop using Seaboard Foods as a supplier and increase transparency around its supply chain.

Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said in an email that the allegations against Seaboard Foods are “deeply disturbing.”

“While we are examining these allegations, we have advised our meat supplier not to send any Seaboard Foods products,” Ratliff said in the email. “We are actively looking for a different pork supplier.”

Ratliff added that campus plans to review all of its suppliers and ensure they have animal welfare certifications and will discontinue relations with companies that do not meet these standards.

Campus dining facilities prioritize locally grown and environmentally and socially responsible ingredients, according to Ratliff. He added that Cal Dining has shifted its menus toward plant-based options.

“We will continue to reach out to the school to request a meeting regarding concrete steps to remove meat from the dining halls,” Rosenberg said in the email.

Maya Akkaraju is a deputy news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.