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Meat plants around the world struggle with COVID-19

Image: elementar01, Meat beef market, Pixabay, Pixabay licence
Image: elementar01, Meat beef market, Pixabay, Pixabay licence

According to this article in the Guardian, slaughterhouses in several countries are being badly affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, with the US being particularly affected. The factors behind the outbreaks are thought to include crowded working conditions, a workforce who often live in shared houses, people working despite being ill because of economic insecurity, and the slaughterhouses not being shut down during the pandemic.

The breakouts have led to millions of animals being culled at the farm and disposed of rather than eaten. The American Veterinary Medical Association has set out methods that are “preferred” and “permitted in constrained circumstances” for different species and production systems (note that the guidance preceded the COVID-19 outbreak). For example, preferred methods for culling barn-reared poultry include suffocation by foam and gassing. Other methods are permitted in certain circumstances, for example “VSD plus” (shutting down ventilation to allow death by overheating, plus additional heat sources or CO2 to hasten death) or controlled demolition of the building housing the poultry. See AVMA Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals: 2019 Edition, Millions of farm animals culled as US food supply chain chokes up and Meat plants closures mean pigs are gassed or shot instead.

Read the full article here. See also the Foodsource resource How do the climate and environment directly affect the conditions required for food production? and read other COVID-19 content in the FCRN’s research library here.

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