Feds Find Thousands of Chickens Killed in Wreck, Others Drowned; PETA Seeks Criminal Charges


For Immediate Release:
October 17, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Hammond, La. – Following recently obtained federal reports documenting that approximately 3,000 chickens died when an employee-operated truck crashed and others drowned or burned to death at the Sanderson Farms Inc. slaughterhouse near Hammond, PETA fired off a letter today to 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott M. Perrilloux, calling on him to investigate and file applicable criminal charges against those responsible.

According to the reports, on June 7, a trailer hauling more than 3,000 chickens overturned at the slaughterhouse—“likely” due to the driver’s error—evidently causing almost all the birds to suffocate and be crushed to death under one another as the heat index reached 97 degrees. On June 27, Sanderson employees left chickens hanging upside down with their heads “totally submerged” in electrified water in the slaughter line, causing them to drown. This incident follows a similar one on April 22, in which two chickens remained conscious, looking around with their “eyes open,” while being plunged into a tank of scalding-hot water, in which they drowned or burned to death.

“These disturbing reports show that thousands of chickens experienced terrifying deaths in a trailer crash and that others endured agonizing pain as they were drowned or scalded to death,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on the district attorney to step in and prevent more illegal suffering by investigating and bringing appropriate charges—and we’d like to remind everyone that the only humane meal is a vegan one.”

PETA points out that chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do. The group is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse and neglect such as those at Sanderson since at least 2007.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Perrilloux follows.

October 17, 2022

The Honorable Scott M. Perrilloux

District Attorney

21st Judicial District

Dear Mr. Perrilloux:

I’m writing to request that your office (and a local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the workers responsible for killing 3,000 chickens in a trailer crash—and leaving others to drown and/or be scalded to death while conscious—at the Sanderson Farms Inc. slaughterhouse located at 13111 Hwy. 190 W., near Hammond. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which the agency just made available to the public.

According to the reports, on June 7 a trailer confining more than 3,000 live chickens overturned at the above address, “likely” due to the error(s) of a then-Sanderson truck driver. A federal agent—only notified of the incident 80 minutes later—apparently found that birds had been crushed and suffocated under one another, as the heat index reached 97 degrees. Approximately 3,000 birds were killed, and only 20 animals survived the incident.

On June 27, during a stoppage in the slaughter line, an FSIS agent found that Sanderson personnel had left chickens hanging upside down with their heads in electrified water. The animals died there, likely of drowning, even though the water vat could have been drained in approximately 1 minute when the line stopped.

Finally, on April 22 FSIS staff saw two still-conscious chickens being conveyed into a tank of scalding water, where they were drowned and/or burned to death.

This conduct does not represent the otherwise-exempt “standard … processing of agriculture products” and thus may violate LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 14:102.1. Please note that FSIS’ simple reports on the matters carry no criminal or civil penalties and don’t preempt criminal liability under state law for cruelty to animals. Thank you for your time and consideration and for the important work that you do.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department


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