World’s Biggest Meat Producer Continues Racking Up Slaughter Violations

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4 min read

What do you do when you’re the world’s largest meat producer? Apparently, you rack up violations of federal handling and slaughter regulations left and right. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) records, JBS S.A.—which owns Smithfield Beef, Pilgrim’s Pride, Swift, and other well-known meat brands—is the target of a number of enforcement actions for its inhumane handling of animals.

Here are the USDA’s findings at JBS facilities in the past year and a half:

  • A cow at a Colorado slaughterhouse was “obviously conscious, vocalizing, [with his or her] head and legs thrashing” while a worker shot the animal in the head with a captive-bolt gun three times, before a fourth blast finally rendered the animal unconscious. (September 2017)
  • A “bright, alert and responsive” cow in Nebraska was shackled and hoisted in the air by one leg while he struggled and cried out. (August 2017)
  • Part of a captive-bolt gun became lodged in a cow’s skull after she was shot by a worker in Wisconsin. Bleeding from the nose, the cow moved her head from side to side and struggled to crawl away as the worker shot her two more times. She staggered about 15 feet before several workers pinned her to a wall and fired at her a fourth time, finally stunning her. (July 2017)
  • A farmer unloading pigs at an Iowa facility dragged an injured, kicking, and crying one off a trailer and then pushed the animal to the ground. Workers did nothing to stop this. (July 2017)
  • Workers left two cows, who were unable to walk and struggling to breathe, lying in pens at an Arizona slaughterhouse. After a “number of minutes,” a federal inspector noticed that one cow had died. The official told the yard supervisor that the other distressed cow “needed to be knocked as soon as possible.” This supervisor responded, “I [k]now, I [k]now,” but “did not do anything further.” Fifteen minutes passed before another worker finally euthanized the suffering animal. (July 2017)

  • Workers at a slaughterhouse in Nebraska shot a cow three times with a captive-bolt gun before the animal was rendered unconscious. The cow bled from the nose and shook his or her head during the five minutes between the first and last shots. Another cow was conscious and in the same pen at this time before being shot. (January 2017)
  • Workers in Kentucky used a metal restrainer and a cutting board to hold a disabled pig in place while they fired three captive-bolt shots at the animal’s head. (January 2017)
  • A steer was shot twice at a Wisconsin facility before being rendered unconscious. After the first attempt, he blinked, looked around, and attempted to pull himself forward on the conveyor belt. At this time, the slaughterhouse was already “on notice” because of a similar incident in which workers attempted to stun a cow three times before rendering him or her unconscious. In that occurrence, after the second stun attempt, the cow was discharged onto a conveyer belt and landed on the floor, regaining consciousness. (January 2017)
  • Workers inflicted two failed captive-bolt blasts on a screaming pig at a Kentucky slaughterhouse before finally rendering her unconscious with a final shot. (December 2016)

  • Another pig in Kentucky endured two failed captive-bolt blasts to the head and then walked around with a hole in his or her skull, crying out in pain. (November 2016)
  • In Nebraska, workers shackled a cow and hoisted him onto a “bleed rail” while he was still conscious and blinking. A worker shot him two times and then restarted the rail so that another worker would have a chance to stun him. (October 2016)
  • Workers at JBS in Nebraska attempted to stun a disabled cow three times before she was finally rendered unconscious. She lifted her head and looked around between the first and final stun attempts. (April 2016)
  • In Iowa, the driver of a slaughterhouse truck used his knee to nudge a heavily panting pig toward a ramp. When the pig fell over, backwards and upside d own, the driver walked away, leaving the animal in distress. Slaughterhouse workers did nothing to stop this. (April 2016)
  • A truck driver in Pennsylvania forced three cows to trample an injured one, driving them “upon and over” her. Workers watched but did nothing to prevent this from happening. (April 2016)

cow eye in sunlight

Every year in the U.S., more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food—animals who have pain receptors, emotions, and desires for self-preservation, just as humans do. And while JBS is the largest meat producer in the world, it’s certainly not the only one that causes animals to endure painful, terrifying deaths, as PETA investigations have repeatedly shown. The most effective way to prevent animals from suffering at JBS and other slaughterhouses is to go vegan.


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