Catfish Slaughter at Texas Facility Sparks Outrage

Full color undercover video shot at a Texas catfish processing facility in eastern Dallas County is sparking outrage and turning stomachs.

Shot by Mercy For Animals (MFA), employees at Catfish Corner, near Mesquite, skin and dismember catfish that clearly fight for their lives to the very end.

In one incident filmed on September 13, 2010 and conveyed to David Alex, Administrative Chief of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in a petition for enforcement of Texas cruelty to animals statutes at the facility, a completely skinned but conscious catfish escapes from an employee’s hand and flails around the sink until the employee retrieves the animal and puts him or her back on the tabletop.

In an incident filmed on September 26, 2010, a catfish being slaughtered never stops opening and closing his or her mouth and trying to escape, as blood runs down the side of the sink and skin is removed. Eventually the camera view is blocked.

In other incidents, animals open and close their mouths to breath and tense and move their caudal fins in vain struggles to escape their circumstances, right up until the time their heads are removed. In some cases the animals’ bodies are visibly shaking.

No attempt is made to render the animals unconscious or to reduce their suffering in the 66 incidents of cruelty documented for authorities, says the animal welfare group, based in Chicago.

The 55-acre Catfish Corner breeds and stocks in artificial ponds as many as 12,000 pounds of captive fish at one time. The animals are slaughtered and sold to the public as food. MFA also believes fish from Catfish Corner are used to stock State of Texas lakes like Lake Ray Hubbard and lakes near Grand Prairie.

In recorded video, the owner of Catfish Corner states on film that he skins and dismembers the animals alive, despite the government’s instruction to “electrically shock them.” MFA says it has documented other Texas facilities which electrically stun fish prior to skinning the animals in order “to render them unconscious and reduce their suffering.”

In a letter to MFA declining prosecution of Catfish Corner, Assistant Dallas County District Attorney Melinda Edwards writes that “Texas animal cruelty law lacks precedent that would support criminal prosecution for the conduct you brought to our attention.”

The ability of fish to feel pain is no longer in dispute.

The skin of the fish “contains sensory receptors for touch, pressure and pain,” says the Standing Committee of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes and is the “first line of defence against disease and provides protection from the environment.”

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Division of Biological Sciences say the fact that fish “can learn to avoid an adverse stimulus such as electric shock … and hooking during angling,” proves their responses are not “simply a nociceptive reflex.”

And Dr. Temple Grandin, the leading farmed animal welfare expert and an advisor to the US Department of Agriculture, says “Research shows that fish respond to painful stimuli in a manner that is not just a simple reflex.” Upon viewing the Catfish Corner video she added, “People processing live fish should first render the fish insensible before skinning, removing meat, or other invasive procedures.”

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. Her first book, titled Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health, has just been released by Prometheus Books. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Martha.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hayate said on January 29th, 2011 at 10:45am #

    What would one expect of texas – the israel of american states.

  2. kalidasa said on January 29th, 2011 at 3:07pm #

    C’mon hayate, you’re bigger (and smarter) than that.

    The truth is more like – What would one expect of humans, the scourge of the earth. (soon to be the solar system, galaxy, universe)

    When universally defined heroes and examplars of humanity, civility and compassion speak, they’re not singling out Texas or Ohio or even Israel as whipping boys.
    They’re talking to you and me.

    “It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed, than
    that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery…
    I wish no living thing to suffer pain.
    -Percy Bysshe Shelley

    No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder
    any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.
    Henry David Thoreau

    Man by violating his own feelings becomes cruel. And how deeply seated in
    the human heart is the injunction not to take life.

  3. mary said on January 29th, 2011 at 3:29pm #

    Take a look at the idiot standing alongside this magnificent creature whose life he presumably took. Is he ashamed of himself? Looks rather sheepish to me.


    The safari company say they are a sustainable ecological company and that they promote ‘Catch and release fishing’. Not in the case of this particular giant fish.

  4. mary said on January 29th, 2011 at 3:36pm #

    More junk food for the junk food junkies. Taco Bell? Beef?


    I like the suggestion in a related story on the page – Give out statins with junk food.

  5. mary said on January 29th, 2011 at 4:11pm #

    An unbelievable $10 billion is spent on Yum brands including KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, etc etc. (Wikipedia)

    Mr Creg Greed sorry, easy mistake, Mr Greg Creed, receives $3.3 million in salary and other perks as President and and Chief Concept Officer? of Yum Brands Inc..


    In his spare time (does he have any?) he is a director of a company based in Reno that makes gaming machines.

    Here he is in full flow refuting the claims that are being made. There is a full list of ingredients.