"As of August 10 ... at leastworkers (40,476 meatpacking workers, 8,450 food processing workers, and 5,812 farmworkers) have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least workers (187 meatpacking workers, 34 food processing workers, and 14 farmworkers) have died."
I've written before about our family decision to buy little or no meat because of the extreme carelessness of the meat-packing industry concerning worker health and safety during the pandemic. Today I decided to check into any progress in this issue. Unfortunately, if anything, it's getting worse. The major meat packing plants are the most egregious -- they continue to employ many minority workers in very terrible conditions, without adequate protection from the virus. (Note, however, that I do not believe that the meat itself is unsafe, in deciding to avoid meat, it's the workers I care about. )Looking for updates on this situation, I found a continuously updated article "Mapping Covid-19 outbreaks in the food system" by Leah Douglas, which appears on the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) website (https://thefern.org/2020/04/mapping-covid-19-in-meat-and-food-processing-plants/). Especially interesting is this graphic view of which companies have the worst record:
|Covid-19 Cases By Company from FERN article.|
The original diagram allows you to look at the numbers for each company.
"Smithfield is Big Pork. It complains in this ad of critics who, it says, are 'cynics and skeptics' who 'don’t understand the notion of responsibility to others' and are 'seeking opportunities to advance their activist agenda.'
"Smithfield, the ad says, puts its 'Smithfield family and country first. By implementing aggressive measures to protect their health and safety during this pandemic. By rewarding our team members on the frontline.'”
"The ad does not mention the number of Covid-19 cases among workers in its plants." (source: https://www.foodpolitics.com/2020/08/hypocritical-food-ad-of-the-week-smithfield-on-its-critics/)
"If it was truly about feeding America, wouldn’t Tyson and Smithfield’s and JBS work with regulators to provide their essential workers with the appropriate PPE and restructure the working environment to allow 6 ft between each worker. Wouldn’t these big companies look at how their facilities are turning into hotbeds and take this not as an indication that there is a threat to their bottom line, but that there is a threat to their employees? It is not just the employees who are at increased risk in these facilities. Meat inspectors, who are required by law to be in facilities if these facilities want to run, are experiencing higher rates of infection. What do we do if there are not enough inspectors to adequately inspect the products these plants are producing?" (source: https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2020/07/change-in-the-time-of-covid-19/)You can see why Len and I are not changing our view that it's wrong to buy meat from the industrial meat processors, which produce most of the meat that we could get in the supermarket. We are definitely not "cynics" or "skeptics" or opportunists with hidden goals. We simply have a desire for justice towards people who are less fortunate than we are.