Slaughtering operations at the Excel Corp. pork plant at Beardstown, IL, reopened in late August, after being forced to close down for a day earlier in the week. The action was taken following the deaths of several hundred hogs during that week.

The Agriculture Department’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) suspended plant operations on Aug. 27 for several violations of the Humane Slaughter Act, says Steven Cohen, spokesman for FSIS.

Excel Corp. spokesman Mark Klein says the hogs died while waiting to be unloaded and during unloading. The main cause was stress due to hot temperatures.

But there were some minor handling problems that needed to be corrected, he adds. Livestock handling expert Temple Grandin of Colorado State University was brought in to review handling methods at the plant. Employees also participated in retraining exercises on handling hogs.

Only slaughter-side operations were affected by the shut down, says Klein. Market hogs were diverted to the Excel plant at Ottumwa, IA.