During the segment on her show "Mornings with Maria Bartiromo," Bartiromo introduced the imposter as Smithfield Foods president and CEO Dennis Organ, before asking him about the effects of the pandemic on the company.
But unbeknownst to Bartiromo, she wasn't speaking with Organ. Instead, she was interviewing an activist identified as Matt Johnson by the animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere.
"Earlier in the program, I interviewed someone claiming to be the CEO of Smithfield Foods, Dennis Organ," she said. "We’ve since learned that that was not Dennis Organ, but an imposter making false claims about the company. He is someone who has absolutely no relation to Smithfield Foods."
Bartiromo apologized for the error. "We will of course be more vigilant."
Smithfield's chief administrative officer Keira Lombardo called the segment "a complete hoax" in a statement to USA TODAY.
"A simple Google search for a photo of our CEO would have prevented this from happening," Lombardo continued. "The statements that were aired are absolutely and completely false."
During the interview, shared on social media by Direct Action Everywhere Wednesday, Johnson stayed in character as Organ for more than six minutes.
"Of course, this pandemic has been simply devastating for our industry," he said. "For our employees, we've provided them with extensive personal protective equipment and offered additional paid leave for sick employees, but those steps have, unfortunately, been insufficient in many instances."
Still pretending to be Organ, Johnson promised to "do better."
"The first change under my leadership is transparency and, at times, brutal honesty," he said. "In addition to the outbreaks that are happening at our plants, our industry poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next pandemic."
Johnson then went on to say that, according to the CDC, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. "The conditions inside of our farms can sometimes be petri dishes for new diseases," Johnson added.
Smithfield's Lombardo pushed back heavily against his claims, saying the company is "a recognized leader in animal wellbeing and care, in stewardship of the environment and in workplace safety" and "has invested more than $700 million in a broad set of measures that have ensured the health and safety of its employees so they can continue to produce food for Americans."
"Smithfield employs veterinarians and other experts across the company who ensure that the safety, comfort and health of farm animals is comprehensive," she added.
According to a press release from Direct Action Everywhere, the stunt was intended to raise awareness about the potential threats of pig farming to public health.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo 'punk'd' by animal rights activist