PONTOTOC – A Pontotoc slaughterhouse, criticized recently by an animal activist group, says it’s back in federal good graces and continues to supply sausage to state schools.
Southern Quality Meats Inc. was put on notice July 10 that multiple violations were discovered in its operation related to federal humane slaughter laws.
Friday, SQM President Don Haynie said his company has retrained employees on correct pig-stunning procedures and installed an animal restraining system “to facilitate proper stunning techniques.”
Haynie said the company received a written complaint May 23 from PETA alleging animal abuse at its pork processing facility in Pontotoc.
PETA apparently gained video taken by a whistleblower showing two incidents of repeated stunning of animals prior to slaughter.
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.
After viewing the video, Haynie said most of it contains correct stunning procedures with only two instances in which an animal was not rendered unconscious on the first stun.
In a July 10 notice, USDA warned SQM to take corrective measures or it would lose its federal inspection status.
Eight days later, USDA said that SQM’s response to concerns was deemed adequate to hold up its suspension from certification, pending its “verification” of the plant’s correction actions.
PETA continues to demand that the State Department of Education terminate its $1.9 million contract with SQM.
The state agency did not respond to questions about the controversy by late Friday.