SANPETE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — A worker at a turkey slaughterhouse near Moroni allegedly struck a live turkey several times against metal shackles in the spring, and now the federal government and PETA are getting involved.
In a recently released report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) detailed observations of an “employee mishandling a live bird.” The incident was caught on video footage at Pitman Farms Inc., also known as Moroni Turkey Processing, on April 12.
The memorandum said an FSIS consumer safety inspector watched as a live turkey flapped its wings while being picked up by an employee, who dropped the bird. The employee then allegedly grabbed the bird again by the legs and “in a sideways swinging motion, forcefully struck the live turkey against the metal shackles two times.”
The report said “the back, wings, neck, and head of the live turkey struck the solid shackles,” and it became motionless. The observer said the employee then laughed out loud.
The FSIS inspector notified their supervisors, and the employee was later suspended “with intent for termination.” FSIS said that there have been no further instances of mistreatment at the turkey plant within the past 90 days.
ABC4 reached out to Pitman Farms Inc. for comment, but the station did not hear back.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called on the Sanpete County Attorney in a letter Tuesday to investigate and potentially file animal abuse charges against the worker.
The Sanpete County Attorney’s Office told ABC4 that a complaint regarding Pitman Farms was filed by a private citizen, and it was forwarded to the local sheriff’s office for investigation. The results of the investigation will be forwarded to the county attorney’s office for possible charges.
PETA representatives say they sought action from state officials, such as the Sanpete County Attorney, because federal officials have not prosecuted a slaughterhouse in more than a decade.
PETA also said that this is not the first case of alleged animal abuse at Pitman Farms Inc. as turkeys that were severely injured in a truck crash were left to languish inside the overturned vehicle for over 10 hours in April 2021.