Federal Probe of Slaughterhouse Sought After Five USDA Violations in One Month

For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2019

Contact:
Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Duncan, S.C. – PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing at least the sixth recent violation of federal law at Foster’s Meats in Duncan, South Carolina. In response, PETA sent a letter today calling on the U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible for shooting cows in the head up to five times before they were rendered unconscious on four different occasions between February 8 and March 8. The slaughterhouse also failed to provide a pig being held in a holding pen with water on February 27. All this follows a December 20, 2018, incident in which a cow was shot at least twice and a 2017 incident in which workers shot a pig four times, hoisted the animal twice, and cut the pig’s throat before he or she was rendered unconscious.

“These disturbing revelations show that these animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Foster’s Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the animals who suffered at this facility and compassionate members of the public.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a supremacist worldview. The group notes that other animals have a central nervous system and sense of self-preservation, just as humans do, and that the only way to prevent cows, pigs, chickens, and others from being abused and killed in slaughterhouses is to go vegan.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina Sherri A. Lydon follows.

March 27, 2019

The Honorable Sherri Lydon

United States Attorney

District of South Carolina

Dear Ms. Lydon,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Foster’s Meats, Inc., and its workers responsible for repeated violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be “rendered insensible to pain by a single blow … or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted … or cut.” At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 143 Christopher St. in Duncan, its staff have shot at least seven animals in the head up to five times before they were rendered unconscious and cut the throat of a conscious pig, as documented in the attached reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

According to the reports, federal officials documented the following:

  • March 12, 2019: “There were four documented incidents of Humane Handling violations from December 2018 through March 1, 2019. … On February 8, 2019, [the] plant attempted to stun [a cow] using multiple gunshots. Post mortem examination showed five entry points in the skull. On February 21, 2019, the establishment attempted to stun [a cow] and was unsuccessful in achieving unconsciousness. An associate followed up with a gunshot which was also unsuccessful, a 3rd subsequent gunshot was used to render the animal unconscious. On March 1, 2019, the establishment attempted to stun two [cows]. Both animals required two stuns to be effective. In each instance, the animal remained upright after the first stun.

On March 8, 2019 … [redacted] observed a beef cow to be improperly stunned …. The employee shot the beef cow with a 22-caliber rifle and within an approximately 10 second period the beef cow raised its head, took a step back, and look[ed] around the restraining pen. The employee applied the second shot with a 9mm pistol . . . .

Additionally, there was one (1) associated noncompliance … for not having water available to a hog held in the holding pen (February 27, 2019).”

  • May 22, 2017: “Inspection Program Personnel (IPP) observed establishment personnel shoot a hog in the head with a .22 caliber long rifle. The hog vocalized and took approximately 2 steps backward, but it did not lose consciousness. Establishment personnel … appl[ied] an electrical current to the back of the hogs [sic] head. The hog went down but as it was being hoisted, the hog regained consciousness. The hog vocalized, was blinking and had tracking eye movement. Establishment personnel shot the hog a second time in the head with a .22 caliber long rifle. The hog was then hoisted and stuck in the neck with a knife but did not bleed out. … [T]he hog was blinking, had tracking movement and was trying to right itself. The hog was then lowered back to the floor and shot two … more times in the head with the .22 caliber long rifle ….”

The Federal Meat Inspection Act classifies such offenses as misdemeanors and provides penalties of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that FSIS enforcement actions alone are insufficient to deter future violations and that criminal prosecution is in the best interests of the animals killed there and the public. Given that the FSIS “fully supports the investigation of all those involved in alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act” and that “[i]nvestigators from [its] enforcement division and from USDA’s Inspector General … stand ready to work” with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you collaborate with the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit’s (OIEA) Enforcement and Litigation Division (ELD) to investigate and bring appropriate criminal charges against those responsible for the above violations.

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

Sincerely,

Colin Henstock

Investigations Specialist

cc:       Scott C. Safian, Director, ELD, OIEA, FSIS

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