Feds See Pigs Beaten and Electroshocked at Smithfield; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
August 22, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Crawford County, Iowa

Following a recently obtained federal report documenting that pigs were electroshocked in the face and beaten on the head at the Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. slaughterhouse in Denison, PETA fired off a letter today to Crawford County Attorney Colin Johnson, calling on him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the workers responsible.

According to the report, on February 22, 2022, a Smithfield employee “indiscriminately” electroshocked several pigs in the face with an electric prod—creating an audible “sizzle” upon contact—and yelled “explicit vulgar words” while unloading the animals. A screaming truck driver used a paddle to hit pigs in the face and head, causing them to cry out and back away into the trailer, and some crawled onto and piled on top of one another to escape.

“This slaughterhouse is a hell on Earth for pigs, including those who endured pain and terror as they were beaten and electroshocked,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling for a criminal probe on these pigs’ behalf and reminding everyone that going vegan protects sensitive animals like them from terrifying deaths in slaughterhouses.”

Last November, a bleeding pig at the slaughterhouse remained conscious and attempted to roll over after a worker shot the animal in the head twice with two captive-bolt guns. A federal official who documented the incident instructed the worker to take a third shot in order to finally render the pig unconscious.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—points out that pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their own lives, just like humans. The group is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse such as those at Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. since at least 2007.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Johnson follows.

August 22, 2022

The Honorable Colin Johnson
Crawford County Attorney

Dear Mr. Johnson:

I’m writing to request that your office (and a law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. (“Smithfield”) and the workers responsible for beating and electroshocking pigs in the face and head at its slaughterhouse located at 800 Industrial Blvd. in Denison. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in reports that the agency recently made available to the public. (See the attached table.)

According to the reports, on February 22 an FSIS inspector saw and heard a  Smithfield employee and a truck driver “yell[ing] explicit vulgar words at … pigs” they were trying to move. The agent saw the Smithfield worker “indiscriminately prod with [a] battery-powered electric prod several pigs …, including … in the face,” and “hear[d] it sizzle each time …. The truck driver paddled several … animals in the face, head … and on the back … (bringing his arm to the level of his head and/or above his head, then bringing the paddle down directly onto the animals, making a slapping sound with each hit).” The pigs cried out in response to the blows and electric shocks.

This conduct may violate Iowa Code § 717.1A or § 717.2. The documented acts are not the customary animal husbandry practices otherwise exempt from prosecution. Please note that FSIS’ action carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for acts of cruelty to animals. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Daniel Paden
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Cruelty Investigations Department

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