Conscious Pig Sent Into Scalding Tank; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
September 21, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Ottumwa, Iowa

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report revealing a violation of law at Swift Pork Company in Ottumwa on September 1. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on Wapello County Attorney Reuben Neff to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and staff responsible for the fatal scalding and drowning of a conscious pig. A USDA inspector had observed the animal—who was hanging by a leg on the slaughter line—crying out and trying to turn upright after his or her throat had apparently been cut. As he tried to find an employee to stop the line, he heard the pig cry out again, seconds before the animal was sent—still conscious—into a scalding tub of water.

“This disturbing report shows that this pig was condemned to a terrifying, agonizing death at Swift Pork Company,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the pig who was scalded and drowned at this facility and urging all compassionate members of the public who are disturbed by this cruelty to go vegan and help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that pigs, sheep, cattle, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do, and that the only way to help prevent them from suffering in slaughterhouses is not to eat them.

For more information, visit

PETA’s letter to Neff follows.

September 21, 2020

The Honorable Reuben Neff

Wapello County Attorney

Dear Mr. Neff,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office (and the proper local law enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Swift Pork Company and the worker(s) responsible for causing a conscious, crying pig whose throat had apparently been cut to be scalded and/or drowned to death on September 1 at its slaughterhouse located at 600 S. Iowa Ave. in Ottumwa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“IPP [FSIS Inspection Program Personnel] heard hog vocalization, turned to the bleed rail and observed a conscious hog vocalizing while attempting to right itself. IPP motioned his hand towards the hog’s face as he got closer and observed eye blinking. This took place shortly before the incline to the scald tub. As IPP followed the hog up the incline, he observed two more vocalization[s] and righting reflex episodes with the hog arching its head upwards towards its shoulders. As IPP went up the stairs to the scald tub, in an attempt to find someone to stop the chain, he heard another vocalization episode. Seconds later the hog went into the scald tub.”1

This conduct appears to violate Iowa Code § 717.2(1)(c). Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.2

Please let us know what we might do to assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 25 Manager Dr. Dawn Sprouls, Notice of Suspension, Swift Pork Company (Sept. 2, 2020)

2See Nat’l. Meat Assoc. v. Harris, 132 S. Ct. 965, 974 n.10 (2012) (“States may exact civil or criminal penalties for animal cruelty or other conduct that also violates the [Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA)]. See [21 U.S.C.] §678; cf. Bates v. Dow Agrosciences, LLC, 544 U.S. 431, 447 (2005) (holding that a preemption clause barring state laws ‘in addition to or different’ from a federal Act does not interfere with an ‘equivalent’ state provision). Although the FMIA preempts much state law involving slaughterhouses, it thus leaves some room for the States to regulate.”).

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.