For Immediate Release:
January 24, 2022
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Newberry County, S.C. – After obtaining U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documents revealing that workers at The Kraft Heinz Company slaughterhouse in Newberry County left numerous turkeys to die of heat stress last summer, PETA sent a letter today to Eighth Judicial Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo calling on him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file charges of cruel carriage in a vehicle against those responsible.
According to the report, on July 7, 2021, a USDA inspector found “numerous” dead turkeys in cages so “overcrowded” that the animals had died standing up. The survivors showed signs of heat stress, including heavy panting. The temperature at the time was 88 degrees, but most of the turkeys were caged on trailers, away from cooling misters that the slaughterhouse is expected to use when temperatures are high. When one of the trailers was unloaded, the inspector saw “[e]xcessive dead birds” whose carcasses filled up at least two carts.
“If anyone left dogs to die in a car on an 88-degree day, they would face criminal charges, and turkeys suffer the same way and are also protected by law,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation into the horrific fates of these birds, who feel pain and fear every bit as much as the animals who share our homes.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Stumbo follows.
January 24, 2022
The Honorable David M. Stumbo
Eighth Judicial Circuit
Dear Mr. Stumbo:
I’m writing to request that your office (and the local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against The Kraft Heinz Company and the workers responsible for leaving numerous turkeys to die of heat stress while crammed in cages at its slaughterhouse located at 3704 Louis Rich Rd. in Newberry County. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which the agency just made available to the public.
According to the report, on July 7, an FSIS inspector found “numerous” dead turkeys in cages so “overcrowded” that the animals had died standing up. The survivors were “obviously heat stressed as noted by the heavy panting [and] outstretched necks.” Although the temperature at the time was 88 degrees, most of the turkeys were caged on trailers without any cooling misters on them—which the slaughterhouse was expected to operate during such high temperatures. Once one of these trailers was unloaded, the federal agent saw “[e]xcessive dead birds,” whose carcasses filled up at least two carts.
This conduct may violate S.C. Code § 47-1-50 (A) (2), which, unlike the state’s anti-cruelty statute, does protect turkeys. Please note that FSIS’ action doesn’t preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouses or their workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals. To learn more about FSIS’ findings, please contact Dr. Phyllis Adams, the agency’s district manager.
Please let me know if I can assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the important work that you do.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Cruelty Investigations Department