Steer Stands, Gurgles After Throat Slit; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
March 16, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Aynor, S.C.

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Palmetto Fresh Meats in Aynor, in which staff shot a steer in the head and cut his throat. The fully conscious animal then stood up, gurgled, and slowly bled to death. In response, PETA sent a letter this morning to Aynor Town Attorney Jason Boan, calling on him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and those responsible.

“This disturbing report shows that this steer experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Palmetto Fresh Meats,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on this steer’s behalf and urging everyone to help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses by going vegan.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their own lives, just as humans do.

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

PETA’s letter to Boan follows.

March 16, 2022

Jason Boan

Aynor Town Attorney

Dear Mr. Boan:

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office (and the proper local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Palmetto Fresh Meats and the worker(s) responsible for shooting an improperly restrained steer in the head and cutting his throat, at which point the conscious animal stood up and looked around before bleeding to death on February 17 at the company’s slaughterhouse located at 403 Jordanville Rd. in Aynor. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

When the steer placed [his] head into the head restraint, the head restraint did not close properly and the steer pulled [his] head back into the chute, leaving the steer’s head free to move. … [A]n employee reached inside the bars of the stunning chute to stun the steer with a captive bolt pistol …. When the captive bolt was discharged, the steer fell inside the chute. An employee reached inside the chute and cut the steer’s throat …. The steer then stood up on [his] front legs in the chute with clear eye movement, bleeding, and making a gurgling sound. The steer fell to the floor after [he] bled out.1

This conduct appears to violate South Carolina Code Ann. § 47-1-40. FSIS’ action demonstrates that this incident does not fall under the accepted animal husbandry practices of farm operations or agricultural practices that are exempted from prosecution. Importantly, FSIS’ action carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.2

Please let us know what we might do to assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 85 Manager Dr. Phyllis Adams, Notice of Suspension, Palmetto Fresh Meats (February 17, 2022) Last accessed March 14, 2022.

2See Nat’l. Meat Assoc. v. Harris, 132 S. Ct. 965, 974 n.10 (2012) (“States may exact civil or criminal penalties for animal cruelty or other conduct that also violates the [Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA)]. See [21 U.S.C.] §678; cf. Bates v. Dow Agrosciences, LLC, 544 U.S. 431, 447 (2005), holding that a preemption clause barring state laws ‘in addition to or different’ from a federal Act does not interfere with an ‘equivalent’ state provision. Although the FMIA preempts much state law involving slaughterhouses, it thus leaves some room for the States to regulate.”).

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