Conscious Pig Slashed, Scalded; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
August 18, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

DeKalb, Ill.

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Northstar Meat LLC in DeKalb. In response, the group sent a letter today to DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato calling on him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible for what the report calls an “egregious … incident.”

According to the report, a federal veterinarian found that a pig hanging upside down on the slaughter line was still alive and crying out after going through a carcass-washing cabinet. The veterinarian told a worker to stun the animal—but instead, the worker cut the conscious pig’s throat before she could stop him. The pig cried out again, and the veterinarian urged employees to stop the slaughter line—but the pig was plunged into a tank of scalding-hot water, where the animal thrashed and screamed before finally being shot.

“This disturbing report shows that this pig experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Northstar Meat,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on this pig’s behalf and urging all compassionate people 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, a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do.

For more information, visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Amato follows.

August 18, 2021

The Honorable Rick Amato

DeKalb County State’s Attorney

Dear Mr. Amato,

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 Northstar Meat LLC and the worker(s) responsible for cutting a conscious pig’s throat and submerging the thrashing, crying animal in scalding water on August 5 at its slaughterhouse located at 108 Harvestore Dr. in DeKalb. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

“[T]he FSIS Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian (SPHV) … observed a market hog attempting to right itself while shackled and moving on the slaughter line as it was exiting the wash cabinet. This cabinet has spinning brushes to clean the carcasses after the animals are stunned, shackled, hoisted, and stuck prior to entering the scald tank. The SPHV lifted the animal’s ear to observe the eye. The hog’s eye was darting back and forth looking around. The hog lifted its head and vocalized when it was touched near the eye. The SPHV then noticed that the hog had not been stuck, as it did not have a stick wound. The employee sticking was immediately notified by the SPHV that the hog had regained conscious and needed to be stunned with the captive bolt gun. The SPHV repeatedly put her fist to her forehead while verbally communicating that they needed the captive bolt gun. The employee then returned with his knife and stuck the hog while it was still conscious. The SPHV tried to stop him but was unable to do so. The hog vocalized. The employee was again informed that the hog needed to have the captive bolt administered, and the employees in the area were told that the chain needed to be stopped so the hog would not get pulled into the scald tank. At this time, the hog was by the entrance to the scald tank and was then observed to be pulled onto the scald tank bars. When the bars dropped to lower the hog into the water, the hog was observed to thrash and vocalize. The tank was then stopped. [Redacted], then arrived and stunned the animal with the captive bolt gun, rendering the hog insensible.”1

This conduct appears to violate 510 ILCS 70/3.01(a). 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 50 Manager Dr. Donald B. Fickey, Notice of Suspension, Northstar Meat LLC (August 5, 2021)

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.”).

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