Hidden camera footage showing baby piglets being slammed to the ground and sows being kicked is raising alarm across Manitoba.

Mercy for Animals Canada released startling footage Monday of conditions inside a Puratone Corp. hog barn in Arborg, Man.

“Certainly thumping piglets and leaving them to slowly suffer and die causes unnecessary suffering,” said Twyla Francois of Mercy for Animals Canada.

The group is now calling for consumers to put pressure on retailers who sell Puratone products.

The animal-welfare organization said Puratone pork products are sold at Wal-Mart, Sobey’s, Superstore and Metro food stores. They want Manitobans to stop buying the meat from those retailers.

The group’s footage shows a worker slamming a baby piglet to the ground, pigs being kicked, their ears being pulled and shows pigs crammed into metal cages or “gestation crates.”

Mercy for Animals Canada said the abuse was recorded during a three-month undercover investigation in Manitoba.

But the Manitoba Pork Council said some of what is depicted in the video is standard practice in animal production.

“The blunt force trauma’s one of the things that has really stuck out and been horrifying for people,” said Karl Kynoch of the Manitoba Pork Council. “But as of today, it is the fastest way to euthanize those little pigs. It’s part of doing business.”

Richard Holley, a University of Manitoba food scientist, says when animal conditions are poor it can raise food safety concerns.

“If the conditions in which animals are fed are poor, then you’re going to automatically find a greater frequency of which there are carcasses that are contaminated with salmonella,” said Holley.

Now provincial officials plan to inspect the facility before deciding whether an investigation is warranted. “We need to determine who witnessed the event, when it was witnessed, where it was witnessed – all of that information – if it’s to be used in a court of law,” said Dr. Wayne Lees, Manitoba’s chief veterinarian.

In the meantime, Mercy for Animals is calling on Wal-Mart, Sobey’s, Superstore and Metro food stores to stop purchasing pork from companies that use small gestation crates. A large number of retailers across the country have already committed to not purchasing meat from producers who use the crates.

Recently, pork producers in Manitoba announced they would phase out small gestation crates for hogs. All of the crates should be replaced by 2025.

Maple Leaf Foods recently purchased Puratone and hopes to have the crates phased out earlier than that by 2017.

Maple Leaf Foods issued a statement Monday, saying they are “deeply committed to the safe and humane treatment of animals.” It goes on to say, “The video shows treatment of animals that is disturbing, portraying this treatment as accepted industry practice. It is not and is not tolerated at Maple Leaf.”

Puratone also released a statement Monday, saying they were “disturbed by some of the images shown in the video taken in one of our farming sites,” and that the images do not “reflect our animal welfare policy and principles.”

Puratone also said an investigation has been launched and corrective actions will be taken.