Feds See Strangled Chickens Left to Suffer at Perdue; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe


For Immediate Release:
October 18, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Richmond County, N.C. – Following a recently published federal report documenting that a worker at the Perdue Foods slaughterhouse in Rockingham twisted chickens’ necks and left them to die slowly on the floor, PETA fired off a letter today to 21st Prosecutorial District Attorney Reece Saunders calling on him to investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the worker responsible.

According to the report, on June 2 a federal agent saw a Perdue worker repeatedly twisting the neck of at least two live chickens and then putting the birds on the floor, where they suffered for more than three minutes. In addition, in June and May at least six chickens were plunged into a tank of scalding-hot water while still alive.

“These disturbing reports paint a picture of indifference to animals’ suffering, with chickens strangled and left to die in agony and others drowned or burned to death,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on District Attorney Saunders to step in and prevent more illegal suffering by investigating and bringing appropriate charges—and reminds 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 such as those at Perdue Foods 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 Saunders follows.

October 18, 2022

The Honorable Reece Saunders

District Attorney

21st Prosecutorial District

Dear Mr. Saunders:

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 worker responsible for mistreating at least two chickens—whose necks he repeatedly twisted before leaving them to struggle and suffer on the floor for several minutes—at the Perdue Foods LLC slaughterhouse located at 416 S. Long Dr. in Rockingham. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached reports, which the agency just made available to the public.

According to the reports, on June 2 an FSIS agent saw a worker “repeatedly” twisting the neck of a live chicken and putting the bird on the floor, where the animal survived for more than three minutes. The worker then “picked up another bird and did it again in the same way,” leaving the second bird “kicking, breathing[,]” and blinking his or her eyes for more than four minutes. The worker “did this action 3 consecutive times and … was unsuccessful to quickly dislocate the muscle in the neck area without suffering.”

This conduct does not represent the otherwise-exempt “[l]awful activities conducted for the primary purpose of providing food for human … consumption” and thus may violate N.G.G.S. § 14-360. Please note that FSIS’ simple report on the matter carries no criminal or civil penalties and doesn’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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