Feds Find That Pigs Froze, Died at Smithfield

PETA Tip Led to Investigation—Now Group Seeks Criminal Charges

For Immediate Release:
April 1, 2021

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Saline County, Neb.

After PETA obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documents revealing that over a two-day period, 91 pigs slowly froze to death on trucks while exposed to temperatures as low as minus 27 degrees at the Smithfield Foods slaughterhouse in Crete, the animal rights group sent a letter today to Saline County Sheriff Alan Moore requesting a criminal probe and charges under Nebraska’s Livestock Animal Welfare Act.

The USDA investigated the facility after receiving a letter from PETA, and agency officials found that every pen inside the barn in which animals are left before slaughter contained pigs who sustained frostbite lesions as large as a foot in diameter. The documents obtained by PETA through a Freedom of Information Act request also reveal that Smithfield workers did not unload pigs for more than an hour roughly a third of the trucks that arrived during two days of extremely cold weather

“If anyone left dogs to freeze to death, they would face multiple felony charges of cruelty to animals, and pigs suffer the same way and are also protected by law,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation into the horrific fates of the pigs at Smithfield, as pigs have the same capacity for suffering as the animals we share our homes with.”

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 Moore follows.

April 1, 2021

Sheriff Alan Moore

Saline County Sheriff’s Office

Dear Sheriff Moore:

We respectfully request that your office investigate and file applicable criminal charges against Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. and the workers responsible for leaving thousands of pigs on trucks as temperatures dipped to -27°F—which killed at least 91 of them—on February 15 and 16 at its slaughterhouse located at 2223 Industrial Rd., near Crete.

On the evening of February 15, PETA received a whistleblower complaint stating that pigs were being left on the trucks for hours in the cold, causing some to die and others to suffer from frostbite. We alerted Smithfield leadership and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on February 16.

The attached public records, just obtained from the USDA, confirm that Smithfield workers left pigs on at least 40 trucks for more than an hour after they arrived at the slaughterhouse. Federal officials found that 91 pigs died on the trucks that arrived on February 15 and 16. A USDA inspector also saw pigs suffering from frostbite lesions—up to 1 foot long—in every pen at the facility’s holding barn and had seen other pigs suffering from frostbite in early February.

These findings appear to constitute scores of felony violations of Nebraska’s Livestock Animal Welfare Act, which prohibits “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly … cruelly neglect[ing] a livestock animal.” 1 Leaving pigs for extended periods on trucks to incur large, painful frostbite injuries and endure a prolonged death are not the commonly accepted practices of commercial livestock operations that are otherwise exempt from prosecution.

Thank you in advance for your time. Please let us know how we can assist you.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1Nebraska Revised Statute § 54-903 https://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=54-903 (Last accessed on Mar. 31, 2021).

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