Farm, factory, and the fate of our food
"The chain never slows. In modern meatpacking plants, the speed of production is set by a chain conveyor system. During times of peak demand, companies speed up the chain. But thanks to reforms brought on by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in 1906, the USDA has set an unofficial cap on line speed by insisting on manual inspection of each carcass. Until now.
Unknown to the average consumer, the USDA has been experimenting with reduced inspection—by giving Hormel Foods special license to run their chains as fast as the supply of hogs and demand for pork would allow. Why does this matter? Because when the chain runs too fast, workers sustain injuries and food safety suffers. And when other parts of the supply chain try to keep pace with higher line speeds, it leads to inhumane treatment of hogs, public health risks, and environmental impact.
The story moves across the heartland: from Minnesota, to witness the cut-and-kill operation; to Iowa, to observe breeding and farrowing in massive hog barns; to Nebraska, to see the tense town hall meetings and anger aimed at newly arrived Hispanic workers; and back to Minnesota, where political refugees from Burma give the workforce the power it needs to fight back."
Learning Areas:Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Assess the relationship between our industrial food production system and vulnerabilities for food safety; Describe factors in the work environment for meatpacking plant workers that have consequences for food safety; Describe the relationship between immigration status or other socioeconomic characteristics of meatpacking plant workers and their work environment.
Keyword(s): Food Safety, Labor
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: This author will be invited if the session is approved.
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: (a disclosure statement from this author will be submitted if the session proposal is accepted.)
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.