Alabama Schools Have Duty to Stop Giving Kids Meat From Slaughterhouse Cited by Feds for Violations of Law
For Immediate Release:
February 13, 2014
Shakira Croce 202-483-7382
Montgomery, Ala. – This morning, PETA sent a letter to Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Thomas R. Bice asking him to look closely at the state’s contract with Southern Quality Meats, Inc. (SQM), a Mississippi pig slaughterhouse that supplies sausage to the state’s schools, according to the state’s Child Nutrition Program coordinator. As PETA points out in its letter, video footage obtained by the group and taken last year shows an SQM worker repeatedly jabbing mother pigs with electric prongs and even shocking one apparently stunned sow’s lower abdomen and/or genitals—actions that caused the U.S. Department of Agriculture to confirm “inhumane handling” in violation of federal law.
“Alabama shouldn’t be sending students the message that it’s acceptable to mistreat animals and reward a lawbreaker with a state contract,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, herself a mother of a school-age child. “PETA is asking school authorities to stop giving taxpayer dollars to this slaughterhouse—and not to serve kids the flesh of spent mother pigs who endured a lifetime of suffering and a terrifying death.”
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA’s letter to Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Thomas R. Bice follows.
February 13, 2014
Dr. Thomas R. Bice, State Superintendent of Education
Alabama State Department of Education
Dear Dr. Bice:
We are writing with regard to Southern Quality Meats, Inc. (SQM), a Pontotoc, Miss., slaughterhouse that, according to June Barrett, program coordinator for child nutrition programs within the department, supplies sausage to Alabama schools. As you know, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) found illegal mistreatment of pigs in violation of federal law at SQM. We respectfully ask that you watch the video of pig slaughter at SQM and reconsider whether the Alabama State Department of Education should support such suffering.
Video footage taken last April, which you can view by clicking here, shows an SQM worker who repeatedly jabs sows with electric prongs and even applies the prongs to one pig’s lower abdomen and/or genitals. A whistleblower also reported to PETA that SQM workers beat downed pigs on the face and head with chains, dragged them to the kill floor, and electro-shocked and jabbed injured pigs for up to 30 minutes. In July 2013, the FSIS confirmed “inhumane handling” of pigs at SQM in violation of the federal Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, finding that pigs were not immediately rendered unconscious by the first application of the electric wand, that “the knock box” did not “sufficiently immobiliz[e] the hogs,” and that SQM “failed to properly train [its] employees in effective humane handling.”
FSIS records released in October 2013 showed that SQM knew of its animal-handling problems for months, as 100 percent of pigs observed by an FSIS official who visited SQM in January 2013 “moved back and forth” in the facility’s knock box, “complicating … stun efforts.” Even though the FSIS addressed this issue with SQM representatives and advised SQM then that the use of the stunner to prod animals was “fraught with peril,” SQM apparently did nothing to remedy these problems until it was caught breaking federal law months later. Even then, SQM repeatedly failed to submit a plan of corrective actions that satisfied the FSIS. In fact, the FSIS district manager wrote that SQM’s first plan was “not acceptable” and provided “[n]o answer as to why the other employees in [the] video at SQM did not bring [the illegal conduct] to [the] attention of [management]”—showing a “breakdown of training of all employees.”
Would you please carefully review the facts and consider whether the Alabama State Department of Education wants to use taxpayer dollars to fund this suffering and feed Alabama’s children from the flesh of animals who have suffered so greatly? We look forward to your reply. Thank you for your time.
Elizabeth Overcash, Evidence Analyst
Cruelty Investigations Department
cc: June Barrett, Program Coordinator, Child Nutrition Programs, Alabama State Department of Education
Rep. Craig Ford, Alabama House of Representatives