Local hog-processing plant cited for inhumane treatment of animals

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WAND) - A Rantoul hog-processing plant has been cited after two pigs that were supposed to be unconscious for slaughtering were almost put in a scalding tank while awake.

That is according to a USDA inspection report.

Rantoul Foods was cited for violation of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act in April.

The plant is still operating after implementing procedures to ensure humane methods of slaughter.

Before hogs are slaughtered, they are put in a carbon dioxide tunnel to make them unconscious.

On April 17, an inspector saw a previously stunned pig show signs of consciousness. The animal had a gag reflex. The hog's breathing then became more regular and rhythmic.

Another pig was observed further down the bleed line, about a minute away from the scalding tank. The animal was lifting its head and blinking its eyes.

The line was then stopped.

By that time, the other hog was also lifting its head, blinking, and trying to get up.

The animals were stunned with a hand-held captive bolt gun, making them unconscious, and the line was started again.

Rantoul Foods responded to the report by saying the cause of the incident was a decreased stun time setting on the CO2 system. The safety service said the response was inadequate and did not include enough specifics.

Rantoul Foods then gave a more detailed response.

The company said it will set its stunning speed settings at the slowest of 150 seconds per cycle. If  the problem continued, the line would be slowed even more and the stunning time would be increased.

An employee would be assigned to watch the hogs on the bleed line for any signs of consciousness. However, the employee would be removed from that duty after one week if no further problems with hogs waking up were documented.

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