Tracking COVID-19 in meat-packing workers
Leah Douglas of the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) is keeping an ongoing map of where COVID-19 cases are clustered among meat-packing workers.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers, has these numbers for its members:
- 29,000 infections
- 238 deaths
Public Citizen reports that the USDA’s Inspector General’s latest report finds that the USDA used unreliable data and hid data from the public in order to allow higher line speeds in meatpacking plants.
The meat industry is defending against these charges. See FoodManufacture.com’s “Coronavirus: meat industry in the firing line.”
But the U.S. is not alone in having appalling conditions in meatpacking plants, as FoodNavigator reports. European meat-packing plants are just as bad, according to a report from the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions.
If anything good comes out of this pandemic, let’s hope it’s to do fix long-standing appalling conditions in meatpacking plants.
Need a movie? Try Eric Schlosser’s and Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation from 2006. It’s a fictionalized account of what happens in meatpacking plants, not much appreciated at the time it came out, but I bet it looks much more timely now.