Following a PETA complaint, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigated and has released its findings of multiple violations of the federal humane slaughter law at Southern Quality Meats, Inc. (SQM), a Pontotoc slaughterhouse that supplies sausage to the state's schools. The USDA admonished SQM for failing to render sows unconscious immediately by stunning them with electric prongs, for using the stunner as a prod, and for failing to train employees properly in effective humane handling. Some animals vocalized and struggled just a few feet from other pigs who were being slaughtered and then skinned, as seen in this video footage taken by a whistleblower inside the plant. The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has funneled contracts worth more than $6 million in local and state tax money into SQM since 2006. In its second letter to MDE Interim State Superintendent Dr. Lynn House, PETA urges her to do what more than 50,000 people have asked her to do: immediately terminate MDE's current $1.9 million contract with SQM, which stipulates that SQM cannot violate animal welfare laws.
SQM President B. Don Haynie Sr. admitted that the video showed "improper stunning techniques" and at least "two instances in which [a pig] was not rendered unconscious on the first stun."
"We appreciate the USDA's prompt action here, and we'd like to see the agency go after all the other slaughterhouses that are tormenting animals in violation of federal standards," says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. "The only way to ensure that animals weren't abused before ending up on your plate is to stop eating them."
Federal law mandates that pigs be handled with a minimum of agitation and discomfort immediately prior to slaughter and during stunning to ensure rapid and effective insensibility to pain. SQM's failure to implement corrective measures required by the USDA could lead to the agency's withholding or suspending federal inspection of the facility.
PETA's latest letter to House—as well as broadcast-quality footage of the mistreatment—is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
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