As we all now know, if we didn’t before, meat is processed by workers who are forced to operate in close proximity. As a result many have succumbed to Covid 19.
“Latino communities and all communities of color in the U.S. are being affected disproportionately by the spread of coronavirus,” LULAC said in its report. “How the government responds will impact the Latino community for years to come and set a precedent for how the U.S. government responds during times of crisis and how it deals with the exigent needs of underserved communities of color.”
According to the report, some of the steps that should be taken in response to the pandemic are local and federal collection of ethnic and racial cases and deaths, the publication of immediate, critical information in Spanish, immediate temporary protective status for undocumented people working in the health fields and as essential workers, funding for small business loans and the release of immigrant detainees.
“We need to make sure we close those inequities,” Garcia said. “Otherwise, we are going to have a disproportionate impact on the Latino community in the United States.”
It was obvious that when people have no choice but to work in close proximity, such as medical professionals, they are in need of the highest form of protection. We have seen many such workers die from Covid 19, mostly due to the delay of adequate protection as their governments were too slow to react with vital health and safety measures.
It is till taking far too long for workers, who find themselves in unsafe environments, to have their work environment made safe for them to work without fear. These could be, for example, garment makers, oil workers, agricultural workers, coal miners and those who work in food markets. Those who work in food processing plants not only have suffered unsafe environments, but often, when the factory is forced to close, lose their vital employment and there is usually no safety net to provide income. Yet the conglomerates who own these massive plants will demand corporate welfare and will rarely share that with their workers.
- In January 2020, despite Covid 19, red meat exports were holding steady in New Zealand:
- Brazil June 2020:
“As of Friday 19 June, almost 24 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state were workers in the local meat industry, according to labour prosecutors and state health data.”
- And in June 2020 in the UK:
“Outbreaks in meat processing plants have been common features of the pandemic, with research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) showing that after ships and workers’ dormitories food processing factories have been responsible for the biggest localised outbreaks.”
“Rowan Foods Wrexham is the latest food factory to be hit by a major coronavirus outbreak. An Asda meat factory has also been closed after an outbreak ”
- And in the USA:
“Eventually, 277 of the more than 1,000 workers tested would test positive. Three workers died due to the outbreak, the Tri-City Herald reported.”
- In Germany, late June:
“Scientists believe they may have found contributing factors that led to the country’s biggest single outbreak at an abattoir in North Rhine-Westphalia – cold temperatures and an insufficient air filtration system that allowed the pathogen to spread rapidly.”
“Calls for change
Heil told the broadcast: “The exploitation of people from Central and Eastern Europe, which has obviously taken place there, is now becoming a general health risk in the pandemic with considerable damage.” Therefore, “there has to be a fundamental change in this industry.”
- Selected countries meat consumption as of 2014:
- Renewed outbreaks since lockdown eased, June 23rd 2020:
“Coronavirus latest: Fresh lockdown for German district after meat-packing outbreak”
- And perhaps worth following is what is happening around the world where the food industry is concerned: