110 workers affected by Southern Quality Meats closure

news_business_greenBy Dennis Seid

Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – After more than a half-century in business, Southern Quality Meats is closing, its operations to be consolidated with its sister plant in Albertville, Ala.

Company officials notified workers Friday morning.

SQM, which opened in 1962, will be shuttered between June 3-17.

An official said the Pontotoc facility employs 110 people.

“This was an extremely difficult decision because of the impact it will have on our Mississippi employees and their families and the surrounding communities,” company CEO Jerry Wilson said in a news release.

“After careful consideration, we have determined that this action best supports our ongoing business strategies and enables us to provide the highest quality product to our customers.”

Albertville Quality Foods has processed meats for food service, retail and national accounts since 1988.

SQM officials said they were “committed to support its employees affected by the decision over the next several months.”

The company said it would work with qualified employees to fill positions at the Albertville plant “where vacancies exist. In addition, the company is working with state and local officials to explore the available training resources and other transition assistance that can be made available.”

Southern Quality Meats was in the spotlight last year when animal rights group PETA alleged that company workers at the Pontotoc plant tortured animals with electroshock instruments that stun them for slaughter.

PETA filed a complaint in May of 2013 against the company.

SQM president Don Haynie said in July that the company retrained its employees on correct stunning procedures and installed an animal retraining system.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said SQM’s response to concerns at the plant was deemed adequate.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com