UPDATE: Victoria’s meat processing businesses have now been linked to almost 300 cases of coronavirus in the state.
9 July, 2020:
As Melbourne goes into lockdown for the next six weeks to combat COVID-19, two more abattoir workers have tested positive for the virus – at JBS in Brooklyn and Pacific Meats in Thomastown.
The new cases come after the Cedar Meats cluster in Melbourne led to the infection of 110 people, and other outbreaks have been reported in abattoirs in France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, the UK, and the US.
According to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 5,000 people working in abattoirs have tested positive for COVID-19 in the US alone.
Why Do COVID-19 Clusters Occur in the Meat Industry?
As Victoria’s chief health officer, Dr Brett Sutton, has noted, “Meatworks are particularly vulnerable” to the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC has highlighted a few reasons for this, including the difficulty of maintaining physical distance among workers on production lines and factory noise that forces workers to stand close to each other when talking or shouting, which can also increase the projection of viral particles.
Meanwhile, Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, suggests that the biggest factor in encouraging the spread of COVID-19 in abattoirs is the cold, dark environment.
Given the evidence that abattoirs are ground zero for spreading disease, they should be the first places to shut down as Victoria copes with its second wave of COVID-19.
Moreover, abattoirs and factory farms are every bit as filthy as the “wet market” in China where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated. A colossal 75% of recently emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are transmitted from other species, and the animals most commonly connected to viral outbreaks in humans are chickens and pigs. Much 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, and their blood and other bodily fluids coat machines, walls, and floors.
You Can Help Stop This
The only thing at risk when abattoirs close is the meat industry’s bottom line. You can help change our food system, protect the environment, and reduce both the inherent risks to workers and the suffering of animals when you stop supporting the exploitation and slaughter of living, feeling beings. Please, eat as if all our lives depended on it, because they do.