Feds See Birds Scalded Alive, Tossed at Southern Hens—PETA Seeks Charges

For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Jones County, Miss.

Armed with U.S. Department of Agriculture reports revealing that workers at Southern Hens’ Moselle slaughterhouse tossed crates of live chickens on nine different days, crushed one chicken under a truck, and left birds to be scalded and drowned, PETA sent a letter today to Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Darren J. LaMarca urging him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file federal criminal charges against the facility and workers.

“Chickens feel every bit as much pain and terror as other animals do, so this case deserves the same attention as if dogs had been thrown, crushed by a truck, and plunged into boiling water,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA urges anyone who still eats chickens to spare a thought for these birds who endured slow, terrifying deaths and choose vegan.”

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 LaMarca follows.

April 8, 2021

The Honorable Darren J. LaMarca

Acting U.S. Attorney

Southern District of Mississippi

Dear Mr. LaMarca:

We’re writing to request that your office investigate and file applicable criminal charges against Southern Hens, Inc., and the workers responsible for at least 13 violations of the Poultry Products Inspection Act between January 4 and April 28, 2020, at its chicken slaughterhouse located at 329 Moselle Seminary Rd. in Jones County. 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, on April 28, a federal agent saw five fully conscious chickens—who were trying to right themselves while they were evidently hanging upside down by their shackled legs—plunged into scalding-hot water, in which they apparently drowned and/or were burned to death. On January 4, an FSIS veterinarian saw a truck run over a live chicken, who was crushed to death. On nine days between February 19 and April 30, FSIS staff, including at least two veterinarians, reported seeing Southern Hens workers toss crates of live chickens off trailers about 6 feet onto a conveyor belt. Some of the crated chickens fell onto a walkway below or even another 5 feet to a dock below that. While the plant manager was notified on February 24—if not earlier—that this was unacceptable, the tossing continued for at least two more months. On another day, a worker allegedly stood on a crate of live chickens while tossing empty crates onto a truck.

21 U.S. Code § 461 (a) provides penalties of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for such conduct. The fact that mistreatment of live chickens persisted at this slaughterhouse shows that FSIS enforcement actions are insufficient to deter future violations and that criminal prosecution is in the best interests of the animals killed there and the public.

Please let us know if we can assist your office.  Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

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