For Immediate Release:
January 30, 2023
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Ottumwa, Iowa – Despite multiple warnings from U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, the JBS slaughterhouse in Ottumwa continues to rack up reprimands for the repeated abuse of pigs, and new reports document a worker beating pigs with a paddle and a pig continuing to struggle after their throat was slit. In response, PETA fired off a letter today to JBS USA CEO Tim Schellpeper calling on him to livestream video footage from the slaughterhouse to help put an end to the persistent violations.
The new reports reveal pigs found with paddle marks, hemorrhaging, and other evidence of abuse, including on August 8, when a worker was seen striking pigs with the edge of a rattle paddle—which is intended as a noise-maker to be used with “minimal contact”—while unloading the animals from a trailer. The inspector notified slaughterhouse staff that the paddle should never be used in this way, but reports record signs of continued beatings and other violations, such as on August 10, when an inspector discovered a pig whose throat had been slit still moving and gasping for air while shackled upside down.
“This facility is hell on Earth for animals, where thousands of pigs have endured painful beatings and another was conscious after her throat was cut,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on this facility to livestream its slaughter operations publicly and reminds everyone that the only humane meal is a vegan one.”
Federal documents previously obtained by PETA revealed multiple instances of workers beating pigs. After an agent raised the issue of excessive paddle use, a worker replied that the practice of beating pigs “will never go away.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Schellpeper follows.
January 30, 2023
Tim Schellpeper, CEO
Dear Mr. Schellpeper:
Given the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports detailing a worker beating pigs on August 8, 2022, the discovery of a conscious pig hanging on the bleed line the very next day, and more problems at JBS’s slaughterhouse in Ottumwa, Iowa, we ask that you immediately change operations there in order to reduce animal suffering.
A long history of alarming incidents at the facility underscores the need for significant changes. Last January, a federal agent saw a truck driver “striking several hogs on the back with … force” and a worker “raise his rattle paddle … over his head and strike [pigs] with great speed.” In February, a JBS worker was “contacting … hogs with [a] rattle paddle … further increasing agitation …. The hogs were vocalizing.” In March, a truck driver was spotted “striking numerous hogs … eliciting loud vocalizations from the hogs.” Days later, a JBS worker “continue[d] to contact [a pig] with the paddle as [he] was slowly trying to walk …. By the time [the inspector reached the pig] the animal was … stressed, laying down and breathing heavily.”
Between September 27, 2021, and September 30, 2022, USDA staff found that the remains of more than 15,000 pigs slaughtered at JBS bore “paddle marks” and other “evidence of implement misuse,” including hemorrhaging. These discoveries were made on approximately 177 different days. During the first shift alone on October 22, 2021, damage to the bodies of 1,050 pigs suggested such abuse. A few days later, a federal agent “voiced … concerns with the excessive use with the paddles when driving hogs.” Apparently, a JBS worker replied that such use—and ensuing wounds on animals—“will never go away.”
Will you please publicly livestream video from all areas of this facility where live animals are handled? Workers might take their duty to handle animals lawfully more seriously if they knew caring people were watching. At the very least, will you reassign the staff referenced in the federal reports to jobs that don’t involve having contact with any live animals and report the involved personnel to Wapello County Attorney Reuben Neff for investigation for possible violations of the state’s anti-cruelty statute? Thank you for your consideration.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Cruelty Investigations Department