Feds Document That Conscious Chickens Were Scalded to Death at Peco Farms; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2021

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Armed with damning U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing that fully conscious chickens were scalded to death on at least four days at a slaughterhouse in Bay Springs, Mississippi, owned by locally based Peco Farms, Inc., PETA sent a letter today to Bay Springs Prosecutor Joseph T. Sims asking him to review the matter and file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and the workers responsible, as appropriate. PETA recently obtained the federal reports via a public records request.

The inspectors noted that none of the birds’ throats were slit before they drowned or were burned to death in water. A similar incident occurred at a Peco Foods slaughterhouse in Canton, Mississippi, where a worker failed to cut the necks of several birds, causing other personnel to rush to do so before the animals were plunged, alive, into a defeathering tank full of scalding water.

“These reports show that conscious birds felt the full agony of dying in blistering-hot water,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA wants this stopped but also urges anyone who still eats chickens to take action by opting for vegan meals instead.”

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 Sims follows.

April 13, 2021

The Honorable Joseph T. Sims


City of Bay Springs

Dear Mr. Sims:

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 Peco Foods, Inc., and the workers responsible for leaving six fully conscious chickens to be scalded to death at its slaughterhouse located at 95 Commerce Dr. in Bay Springs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which PETA just obtained via a public records request.

According to the reports, FSIS staff saw the animals—apparently hanging upside down by their shackled legs—being conveyed with their heads lifted up, indicating that they were conscious, on January 16, February 15, February 17, and March 12, 2020. None of the birds’ necks showed evidence of having been cut, indicating that the Peco Foods personnel responsible for slitting their carotid arteries to bleed them to death had failed to do so. As a result, the conscious animals were lowered into scalding-hot water, where they were drowned and/or burned to death.

This conduct may violate Mississippi Code § 97-41-1, which makes it a misdemeanor offense if “any person shall … with criminal negligence … cause … to be … tortured … any living creature.” 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.

Please let me know if I can assist you.  Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department

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