Meridian Star

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April 6, 2014

Southern Quality Meats closing in Pontotoc


PONTOTOC, Miss. (AP) — Southern Quality Meats plans to close its plant in Pontotoc.

Company officials notified the plant's 110 workers Friday that the 52-year-old plant will be consolidated with a newer plant in Albertville, Ala., 160 miles west of Pontotoc, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal ( reported.

"This was an extremely difficult decision because of the impact it will have on our Mississippi employees and their families and the surrounding communities," CEO Jerry Wilson said in a news release. "After careful consideration, we have determined that this action best supports our ongoing business strategies and enables us to provide the highest quality product to our customers."

Albertville Quality Foods has processed meats for food service, retail and national accounts since 1988.

Southern Quality Meats opened in 1962. It will be shuttered between June 3 and June 17.

Officials said the company is "committed to support its employees affected by the decision over the next several months."

The company said it would work with qualified employees to fill any vacancies in Albertville, and has asked state and local officials what training and other assistance is available.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a complaint in May against the company, alleging that workers in Pontotoc tortured animals with electric stunners.

Company president Don Haynie said, after getting a copy from a third party, that it showed two incidents in which a company employee used improper procedures that were against company policy. He said the company retrained its employees and installed a restraint system for animals that made the proper procedures easier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said SQM's response to concerns at the plant was deemed adequate.


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