A Melbourne abattoir run by Cedar Meats is the centre of one of Australia’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks – so far, 49 people connected to the facility have tested positive for the coronavirus.
As Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, noted, “[m]eatworks are particularly vulnerable” to COVID-19. More than 4,900 workers at meat-processing plants in the US have contracted the virus, of whom 20 have died.
Why Do COVID-19 Clusters Occur in the Meat Industry?
In abattoirs, people work in close proximity to one another – social distancing is not feasible.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, working on a kill floor was a dangerous, dirty, dead-end job. In Australia, the injury and illness rate for workers in the meat industry is four times the national average, since staff are often forced to work at reckless speeds in order to maximise production.
In fact, Cedar Meats became aware of the outbreak only after a worker was rushed to hospital following a workplace accident in which his thumb was severed.
Killing Animals Is Killing Us
Australian abattoirs and factory farms are every bit as filthy as the wet market in China where the coronavirus is believed to have originated. In fact, the species most commonly connected to viral outbreaks in humans are chickens and pigs. A colossal 75% of recently emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are transmitted from other animals.
Of course, in addition to the human suffering linked to abattoirs, there’s also the terror of the animal victims who fight desperately to escape as they’re dragged into these houses of horrors.
Like wet markets, abattoirs are full of frightened animals who must watch as their companions are killed in front of them. They’re dismembered piece by piece, their blood and other bodily fluids coating machines, walls, and floors.
Abattoirs Are NOT an Essential Service
The Cedar Meats abattoir has closed temporarily but plans to reopen by mid-May, once again putting workers at risk. The meat industry must make the common-sense decision to close down its facilities to prevent anyone else from contracting the coronavirus.
The only thing at risk when abattoirs close is the meat industry’s bottom line. Please stop supporting the exploitation and slaughter of animals – go vegan. By doing so, you’ll support the transition to safer, more ethical methods of food production in Australia, help prevent future pandemics, and spare animals needless suffering.