Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Boycott Fast Food! Part 2: The Slaughterhouse

If you need other reasons to boycott fast food, besides those found in "Boycott Fast Food! Part 1 here is something else to ponder.

Fast Food is fueled by a constant need for beef. This would not be a problem if there were standards for the beef, and if the workers were being treated fairly. However, the workers of slaughterhouses are being treated on par with animals.

Everything following this paragraph comes from Sustainable Table This excerpt talks about worker safety in the slaughterhouse. I encourage you to read the whole article, found in the link above.

"Meat processing facilities are also known to pose significant threats to worker safety. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, meat processing is the most dangerous job in the nation; in fact, the rate of injury and illness among slaughterhouse workers is approximately three times higher than the injury rate in the average U.S. factory. Every year, 29 out of every 100 meat processing workers sustains a work-related injury or illness that requires treatment beyond first aid.10 Given the pressure placed on slaughterhouse supervisors to report low injury-rates and the numerous past scandals involving injury-log falsification at slaughterhouses, it is likely that many additional injuries are never recorded.11

As a result of breakneck production line speeds and the strain caused by repetitive cutting, slaughterhouse workers often suffer from lacerations, tendonitis, back problems, shoulder problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other cumulative trauma disorders.12

Although meat processing is a difficult and dangerous occupation, precautions can be taken to minimize the threats to worker safety. Among the most important safeguards is to maintain production line speeds so that workers are able to process meat without putting themselves or their coworkers at unreasonable risk of injury. However, in order to maximize profits, meat processing companies continue to maintain unreasonably fast line speeds, thereby jeopardizing the safety of workers and the food supply.

Unfortunately, workers at meat processing facilities have very little power to address the dangerous working conditions to which they are routinely subjected. Slaughterhouses typically recruit unskilled, recent immigrants many of whom are unfamiliar with U.S. labor laws, and/or unable to speak English and who are unlikely to file complaints about company policies or attempt to organize labor unions.13 The creation of effective labor unions is also impeded by high rates of worker turnover; for instance, at ConAgra's Greely slaughterhouse, the nation's biggest meatpacking complex, the labor turnover rate is approximately 80% per year.14

Given the high incidence of worker injury, the recurrence of sanitary violations at meat processing facilities, and continual outbreaks of food-borne illnesses caused by contaminated meat, it is clear that the U.S. meat processing industry is in dire need of reform. Production line speeds should be slowed to a pace at which workers can perform their duties safely and food safety standards can be guaranteed. Government oversight of food safety standards must also be improved; in order to protect public health, the USDA should conduct more rigorous inspections at meat processing facilities and should have the authority to order recalls of contaminated meat and the power to shut down processing plants that fail to meet food safety standards."


JM said...

You know, I have read a ton of articles on the anti-slaughterhouse,anti-beef subject, but this is the first I have seen that focuses on not only the animal, but the person as well. Well chosen post. Interesting read!

nuuki said...

Eric check out badthings if you don't already know it...
The site is always food worthy, good value...the links on the blogroll are the full of info.