The USDA issued a brief suspension at Northeast Kingdom Processing plant

The USDA issued a brief suspension at Northeast Kingdom Processing plant after an inspector documented a hog slaughtering incident that failed to meet humane treatment. The suspension was lifted within a day, and a plant official says the incident was an anomaly for the operation which voluntarily obtains additional animal welfare certification and prides itself on its treatment of animals. The incident happened at the St. Johnsbury meat processing facility in the Industrial Park on March 21 when, according to USDA documents, the consumer safety inspector saw plant staff attempt to electrically stun a hog three times during the slaughtering process and then begin the process of hoisting the hog despite signs the hog was not completely stunned. The hog was stunned at the neck, behind the ears and then in the chest, vocalizing after each one. The inspector then interceded, and a fourth stunning attempt resulted in the animal performing the “rhythmic death throws” allowing the slaughter to continue. Federal regulation for stunning requires the electrical shock to produce an immediate insensibility to pain in the animal, states the USDA documents, which notes the incident would result in the suspension of inspection program personnel being assigned to the facility and described it as an “egregious Humane Handling incident.” The suspension was officially lifted within a day following the submission of a plan of corrective actions submitted by the meat processing plant shortly after the incident. The corrective actions called for retraining of staff working on the kill floor, operational changes to the selected voltage and application and sequencing of animals, as well as increased supervision. 

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