DUNCAN, SC (WSPA) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently suspended an Upstate slaughterhouse for failing to humanley handle and slaughter animals and violations related to sanitation procedures.
According to a letter of suspension sent from the USDA to the owners of Foster’s Meats — located at 143 Christopher St. in Duncan — the slaughterhouse was found non-compliant during a Comprehensive Food Safety Assessment conducted between March 4 and 12.
In the letter, the USDA said the company had four documented incidents of humane handling violations from December 2018 through March 1.
According to the letter, Foster’s Meats:
- Dec. 20, 2018 – Failed to render cattle insensible to pain by a single gunshot.
- Feb. 8, 2019 – Attempted to stun an animal using multiple gunshots. An examine of the animal determined there were five entry points in the animal’s skull.
- Feb. 21, 2019 – Attempted to stun an animal and was unsuccessful in achieving unconsciousness. An associate then followed up with a gunshot, which was also unsuccessful. A third gunshot was used to render the animal unconscious.
- March 1, 2019 – Attempted to stun two animals. Both animals required two stuns to be effective. The animal reportedly remained upright after the first stun.
On March 8, 2019, the improper stunning of a beef cow was observed.
“The employee shot the beef cow with a .22 caliber rifle and within an approximately 10 second period the beef cow raised its head, took a step back, and look around the restraining pen. The employee applied the second shot with a .9mm pistol and the beef cow immediately dropped to the floor. The failure to render the beef cow insensible to pain by a single gunshot does not meet the regulatory requirements …“
An associated noncompliance was noted for not having water available to a hog held in a holding pen on Feb. 27, 2019.
David Davis lives near the slaughterhouse and has been a customer.
“We’ve enjoyed what we’ve gotten down there,” Davis said. “What we have purchased down there we have found them to be very friendly, congenial and they’ll take time to stand there and talk with you.”
“I have been involved in doing some butchering on the farm when I was growing up on a farm and in other areas. It has to be done in a proper way. To cause an animal to be suffered is unnecessary and inhumane.” Davis said. “I’m not against killing animals, it just should be done in a way that the first shot should take them down, plain and simple.”
We reported back in 2017 that Foster’s Meats was suspended after a pig was shot four times in the head, stabbed and electrocuted.
According to the letter, Foster’s was also not conducting sanitary dressing procedures and did not demonstrate an appropriate method for sanitizing equipment on the slaughter floor.
“Your establishment has not demonstrated that contamination is being minimized in the absence of the sanitary dressing procedures as observed on March 5, 7, and 8, 2019,“ according to the letter. “There are no sanitizers (hot water, chemical, etc.) used on the slaughter floor during production. Additionally, the employees were observed working with street clothes, no outer covering (smocks or aprons). This creates the potential for cross-contamination of the product from employee street clothes.“
- Read USDA’s letter here.
Foster’s Meats owner Jennifer McAbee tell us that they are back in accordance with USDA regulations.
A notice of suspension in abeyance was issued March 14, 2019 stating the businesses submitted written responses outlining corrective actions taken and additional preventative measures.
- Read USDA’s letter here.
A suspension in abeyance was issued in the 2017 case.
Foster’s Meats issued the following statement:
We, at Foster’s Meats, take humane handling very seriously. We were issued a suspension by USDA on March 12, 2019. Our suspension was placed in abeyance on March 14th. What this means is we have complied with all requests made by the USDA and are back in full operation. We are Animal Welfare Approved which is an audit by an independent third party. We have and always will be concerned for the welfare of animals. -Jennifer McAbee, Owner
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued a news release Wednesday after obtaining USDA’s report.
“In response, PETA sent a letter today calling on the U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina to review these violations of the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against the facility and the workers responsible for shooting cows in the head up to five times before they were rendered unconscious on four different occasions between February 8 and March 8. The slaughterhouse also failed to provide a pig being held in a holding pen with water on February 27. All this follows a December 20, 2018, incident in which a cow was shot at least twice and a 2017 incident in which workers shot a pig four times, hoisted the animal twice, and cut the pig’s throat before he or she was rendered unconscious.“
“These disturbing revelations show that these animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Foster’s Meats,“ PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch said. “PETA is calling for a federal investigation on behalf of the animals who suffered at this facility and compassionate members of the public.“
Davis said he hopes the business can learn from these violations.
“I think they will,” he said. “They’ve been in the community too long.”