Federal Probe of Slaughterhouse Sought After Another Conscious Pig Found Hanging From Rail

For Immediate Release:
August 6, 2018

Contact:
Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Portland, Ore. – PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report revealing at least the third recent violation of federal law at Masami Foods in Klamath Falls. On July 24, 2018, a federal official found a conscious, gasping pig hanging upside down on a rail and lifting his or her head; the inspector “urgently instructed” a worker to stun the pig, which was finally accomplished after three attempts. This follows a February 6, 2018 incident in which an inspector saw a worker slash a conscious pig’s throat and a November 6, 2017 incident in which a worker shot a conscious cow three times over the course of up to 15 minutes, causing the animal to bleed from the nostrils and mouth. In response, PETA sent a letter today calling on the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon to investigate the slaughterhouse for repeatedly violating the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible for the animals’ suffering.

“The latest disturbing revelations show that animals continue to die prolonged, agonizing deaths at Masami Foods,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the pigs and cow who suffered at this facility and the members of the public who care about them.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—notes that other animals have a central nervous system and sense of self-preservation, just as humans do, and that the only way to prevent pigs, cows, chickens, and others from suffering in slaughterhouses is to go vegan.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to U.S. District Attorney Billy J. Williams follows.

August 6, 2018

The Honorable Billy J. Williams

United States Attorney

District of Oregon

Dear Mr. Williams,

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against Masami Foods, Inc., and its workers responsible for repeated violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be “rendered insensible to pain by a single blow … or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted … or cut.” At the company’s slaughterhouse, located at 5222 Tingley Ln. in Klamath Falls, its staff have repeatedly botched the stunning of animals, resulting in animals experiencing up to 15 minutes of pain and terror, including at least one whose throat was slit while the animal was fully conscious, as documented in the attached reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

According to the reports, federal officials documented the following:

  • July 24, 2018: “[A] market hog [was] stiffening on the rail. … [T]he hog began to try and regain its upright position. This was not side to side thrashing; it was purposefully lifting its head in line with the back trying to right itself. The front legs were stiff and lifting as well, not thrashing uncontrollably. When [the inspector] looked below at the hog’s head, the eyes were focused (were not fixed and dull), actively looking at the employee next to it, bright and attentive, and the pig began gasping …. [The inspector] stated to the employee … ‘We have a conscious pig on the rail [who] needs to be knocked immediately.’ The employee then got down from his station to perform the knock. As the employee was getting down from the head station the [redacted] urgently instructed the employee to get the ladder and climb up to knock the hog. The captive bolt did not fire on the first two attempts (bolt did not fire after the employee re-cocked the captive bolt both times), [the] employee did not attempt to reload the captive bolt gun, and the third attempt (bolt fired correctly) resulted in the hog’s body dropping to a state of … unconsciousness.”
  • February 6, 2018: “[A]n electrically stunned market hog [was] shackled, hoisted, and bled on the rail. The hog was observed to be conscious as it was rhythmically breathing, making gurgling and gasping sounds, normally blinking and tracking its eyes to the environment, and trying to right itself, as evidenced by repeated arching of the head and neck dorsally along the longitudinal axis. The [FSIS official] then observed a plant employee reach around and re-stick the hog without applying another stun attempt to render it unconscious. Approximately 30 seconds after the second stick, all signs of consciousness ceased and it was hanging limp.”
  • November 6, 2017: “The establishment made the decision to use a .22 caliber rifle to stun and slaughter the cow …. [T]he … employee’s first stunning attempt hit the forehead but the animal remained standing and was not rendered unconscious or insensible with blood seeping from both nostrils and mouth. A second attempt was applied with the same rifle and it entered again into the forehead with the animal jerking its head back but still remaining upright and conscious. The … employee was about 30 ft. away from the animal when attempting to stun the animal. The … employee then changed his approach to [the] animal from the other side of the west side alley. The … employee was approximately 5 to 10 feet away from [the] animal and attempted a third stunning … with the .22 caliber rifle, which successfully rendered the animal unconscious. … The time between the first and second stunning attempts was approximately 2 to 5 minutes. The time between the second and third attempt was approximately 5 to 10 minutes. After the establishment skinned the head, the [FSIS official] observed a hole to right of midline but approximately 2 cm medial to right medial canthus of [the] eye, a second hole midline but on the level of an imaginary line from right to left medial canthi, and [a] third hole at the cross section of two diagonal imaginary lines from [the] right eye to left ear and [the] left eye to right ear.”

The Federal Meat Inspection Act classifies such offenses as misdemeanors and provides penalties of imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The fact that inhumane handling persists at the establishment makes it clear that FSIS enforcement actions alone are insufficient to deter future violations and that criminal prosecution is in the best interests of the animals killed there and the public. Given that the FSIS “fully supports the investigation of all those involved in alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act” and that “[i]nvestigators from [its] enforcement division and from USDA’s Inspector General … stand ready to work” with offices such as yours, we respectfully ask that you collaborate with the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA)’s Enforcement and Litigation Division (ELD) to investigate and bring appropriate criminal charges against those responsible for the above violations.

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

Sincerely,

Colin Henstock

Investigations Specialist

cc: Scott C. Safian, Director, ELD, OIEA, FSIS

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