PETA plays hardball with Victorino over Spam


POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An animal rights group yesterday asked Shane Victorino, the Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder, to strike Spam from his diet because of alleged pig abuse at a farm that supplies meat to the makers of the canned food.

From June until last month, employees of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals shot undercover video of workers mistreating pigs at an Iowa farm owned by MowMar LLP of Fairmont, Minn., a supplier to Spam-maker Hormel Foods, said PETA's Assistant Director Dan Shannon.

In an e-mail yesterday, Shannon urged the Maui-born Victorino to “;abandon the Spam.”;

“;While Spam might be a popular foodstuff in your native Hawaii, before you take another cholesterol-packed bite, let me tell you about the horrific abuse of animals at the hands of Spam's pork suppliers,”; he wrote.

Victorino and Philadelphia Phillies' officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A call and e-mail seeking comment from the Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods were not immediately returned.

In an interview, Shannon said he decided to write Victorino a letter after learning the player had listed Spam musubi - featuring a slice of meat wrapped with seaweed on top of rice - as one of his favorite dishes in a TV sports show.

“;We found some hideous cruelty to animals,”; Shannon said of the video, which showed multiple pigs being beaten with metal gate rods and two men jabbing clothespins into pigs' eyes and faces.

“;I think any decent person would want to know how animals are treated before they are turned into Spam,”; he added.

MowMar officials told the Associated Press last month they would investigate the alleged abuse and fire farmers found to have participated in it.

Shannon said Victorino could help raise awareness about animal cruelty by giving up Spam or simply decrying conditions at the farm in question.

“;Shane, like any athlete, is someone that people are going to look up to,”; he said.

Victorino had not replied to the group as of yesterday afternoon, Shannon said.

A St. Anthony High School graduate, Victorino, 27, has been instrumental in the Phillies' run in the National League championship series. On Monday, he hit a home run that propelled his team to a come-from-behind win against the Los Angeles Dodgers to take a 3-1 lead in the series, just one game shy from the World Series.