Feds See Pigs Beaten at Smithfield; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Bladen County, N.C. – After obtaining U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) documentation revealing that workers repeatedly beat pigs with paddles at the Smithfield Fresh Meats slaughterhouse outside Tar Heel, PETA sent a letter today to Bladen County District Attorney Jon David calling on him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against those responsible.

According to the reports, on June 18, 2021, a USDA inspector witnessed a worker lift a plastic paddle “over and behind his head” before swinging it down onto pigs at least three times. The man then repeatedly “jabbed” the pigs with the paddle. After the inspector approached him, the worker drove off. On September 8, 2021, a federal inspector heard “loud slap like sounds” and then saw two workers forcefully striking pigs with similar paddles several times.

“When a person strikes a dog or cat, people rightfully demand that charges be filed, and pigs are also protected by law,” says Dan Paden, PETA’s vice president of evidence analysis. “Pigs feel pain and fear just like the dogs and cats who share our homes, and PETA is calling for a criminal investigation into the violence inflicted upon these animals.”

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 David follows.

February 28, 2022

The Honorable Jon David

Bladen County District Attorney

Dear Mr. David:

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. and the workers responsible for beating pigs at its slaughterhouse located at 15855 Highway 87 W. near Tar Heel. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in reports that the agency recently made available to the public. (See the attached table. You can find this information in its original format by clicking here and searching for this slaughterhouse’s establishment number, M18079; scrolling to the below dates; and then scrolling right.)

According to the reports, on June 18, 2021, an FSIS inspector saw a worker lift a hard plastic paddle “over and behind his head” and swing it down to strike pigs at least three times. The man then repeatedly “jabbed” the implement at pigs. At the federal official’s approach, the man “dropped the paddle” and “drove off,” but Smithfield management apparently identified the suspect.

On September 8, 2021, an FSIS inspector heard “loud slap like sounds coming from … approximately 40 yards away” and then saw two workers repeatedly striking pigs with similar paddles. “Both employees were raising their paddles above their heads and striking the pigs with force. I observed and heard them strike the pigs in this manner several times as I rapidly approached the area,” the federal agent wrote. Again, Smithfield management apparently identified the suspects, including by reviewing video of the incident.

This conduct may violate N.C.G.S. § 14-360 (a). 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. For more details on FSIS’ findings, please contact District Manager Todd M. Furey. Thank you for your consideration and for the important work that you do.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

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