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Why Meat Processing Plants ( CRS, DrPH)

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Hazelpad View Drop Down
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    Posted: June 19 2020 at 7:53pm

Calling Chuck who has background in this, or anyone else who may have any ideas...

Why are the meat  processing  plant staff  being hit by C19 so bad just now.  In Europe cases are falling but rising rapidly in these plants. 

 600 infections in a German plant, and here in UK  3  large chicken processing  plants closed today..is it the way they work ( I thought they spent a lot of time suited and masked up), or something else.

Just curious.  Some people here begining to suggest it's the vegans and vowing revenge ....poor vegans.... seriously though wonder what  actually  it is.  Working practices maybe. Or just a coincidence. 

  The large call centres with 1000s of people working in close proximity seem to have been spared, but not the processing plants.  

One of the plants involved in the UK I was reading supplies a 3rd of all chicken to UK supermarkets and it has had to close.

Anyone any idea as I know this happened in US.  

Thanks Hz x

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 19 2020 at 10:33pm

I'm guessing that because of the cold conditions the virus lasts longer,spreads more...

 I did ask a question a while ago, how long would a virus last on a frozen carcass ?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Penham Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 20 2020 at 9:01am

I think they said one of the reasons is the people work so close in proximity to each other that if one person gets it, it's just spread so easily because of the closeness of working conditions. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tabitha111 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 20 2020 at 11:23am

Another reason is - they don't go home when they are feeling sick and they don't stay home when they are sick...they risk losing their jobs if they do and they need the money. The meat plants don't give them much grace.

'When you feel as though you can't do something, the simple antidote is action: Begin doing it. Start the process, even if it's just a simple step, and don't stop at the beginning.'
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 20 2020 at 4:00pm

It's quite physical work butchering animals and so people would be breathing deeply, unlike in a call centre. Perhaps that's the reason.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 20 2020 at 4:39pm







DW (English): Coronavirus: German slaughterhouse outbreak crosses 1,000.

https://dw.com/p/3e5We?maca=en-gk-volltext-newsstand-topstories-en-10709-xml-googlenews

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hazelpad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2020 at 7:11am

Thanks for your replies, makes a bit more sense now.  All good points.

I was just curious as the links between outbreaks and meat processing plants are becoming even more pronounced.  So many employees, so in German plant 1000 out of 3200 employees is approx 1 in 3 all at one time.  That's a huge hit rate  in one building and not seen on other industries that also have huge staff numbers working in close proximity such as call centres in UK.  Outbreak in London large Barclays Bank call centre only approx spread to 1 in 35 employees.

Your explanations about cold dark damp working conditions meaning virus stays around longer.  Also 24hr production and type of strenuous work so thanks for that.

At moment we have 3 meat processsing plants shut in UK, an 2 more under investigation, similar examples across some parts of Europe, China et .  Alarming today reported a 1/2 of C19 hotspots in US are now linked to meat processing plants.

Obviously with a pattern emerging like that I was curious so was looking for  info  so thanks for opi io s much appreciated. 

Hz

Almost half the current Covid-19 hotspots in the US are linked to meat processing

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/15/us-coronavirus-meat-packing-plants-food


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Tabitha111 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2020 at 7:18am

Read this in Pro-Med this morning:

According to a CDC investigation, there

are various factors at play that make meat-processing plants ideal

breeding grounds for the virus. The report found that working

practices make it difficult for employees to maintain physical

distance, particularly if they work on production lines. And social

distancing is also difficult to maintain in break rooms, so some

factories have set up outside rest areas. The pace and physical

demands of factory work also make it hard for workers to wear face

coverings, with CDC observers noticing that workers tended to cover

just their mouths, not their noses, and frequently readjusted their

masks.

Professor James Wood, researcher in infection dynamics and control of

diseases at the University of Cambridge, said the speed of production

lines made the spread of infection more likely. "If we do see

outbreaks in slaughterhouses, one issue could be the challenges of

avoiding close working between individuals on fast-moving slaughter

lines and the substantial air movement that exists in and across many

slaughterhouses and meat plants," he said.

The LSHTM paper hypothesises that the noise in factories also means

that workers have to either stand close to each other when talking or

shout, which can increase the projection of viral particles. There are

also socioeconomic factors. CDC noted that in one factory, 40

different languages were spoken, so communicating information about

social distancing and safe working practices was difficult. Workers

also travelled to work together, either on buses or in car shares,

enabling the virus to spread even further. Employees were also more

likely to live in crowded, multi-generational households, facilitating

the spread of the disease to older, more at-risk individuals. The

precarious working conditions of factory workers may also be a factor.

If they are on zero-hours contracts or, in the US, do not have medical

insurance, they may be unwilling to take sick leave.

Prof Wood added, "If the outbreaks are large, that might suggest that

there may be continued transmission in some plants, raising the

question of whether people are coming to work when unwell." 

Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the

University of Liverpool, says that the biggest factor encouraging the

spread of COVID-19 in such settings is likely to be the environment.

Such facilities are cold and lack natural light. "If I wanted to

preserve a virus, I would put it in a cold, dark environment or a cool

environment that doesn't have any ultraviolet light, essentially a

fridge or a meat-processing facility," he said. "If you have a cold

nose, that will help the virus take hold. And when you shout, you

produce more of the virus particle," he added. He said that factories

for vegetables or other goods had not seen any outbreaks, so the

temperature was likely to be the key factor. "The perfect place to

keep a virus alive for a long time is a cold place without sunlight,"

he said.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tabitha111 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 21 2020 at 8:35am

COVID Outbreak in German Slaughterhouse Will Affect Lidl and Aldi in Europe But Not Their Outlets in Spain -21 Jun 2020


https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2020/06/21/covid-outbreak-in-german-slaughterhouse-will-affect-lidl-and-aldi-in-europe-but-not-their-outlets-in-spain/

Germany has recently suffered the worst outbreak of Covid-19 in Europe this, in turn, has affected Lidl and Aldi supermarkets across Europe, however, Spain assures they are not affected by this outbreak.

'When you feel as though you can't do something, the simple antidote is action: Begin doing it. Start the process, even if it's just a simple step, and don't stop at the beginning.'
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote EdwinSm, Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 25 2020 at 8:17am

Originally posted by "BBC" "BBC" wrote:

More than 1,500 workers at a Tönnies meat processing factory in western Germany have contracted Covid-19.

The new cluster of infections has led to intense scrutiny of meat production factories, one of the most common sources of coronavirus outbreaks across the country.

Scientists believe cold temperatures and an insufficient air-filtration system allowed the pathogen to spread rapidly at the factory in Gütersloh, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Professor Martin Exner, who's leading the task force studying the causes of the plant's outbreak, told reporters that the ventilation system, designed to keep temperatures between 6C and 10C, "continually recycled the same untreated air into the room".

He said it was "a newly discovered risk factor, and just one factor", adding that it "would have big consequences" for other slaughterhouses as well.

Read more: What went wrong at Germany's Gütersloh meat factory?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 25 2020 at 1:05pm

Originally posted by Hazelpad Hazelpad wrote:

Calling Chuck who has background in this, or anyone else who may have any ideas...

Why are the meat  processing  plant staff  being hit by C19 so bad just now.  In Europe cases are falling but rising rapidly in these plants. 

 600 infections in a German plant, and here in UK  3  large chicken processing  plants closed today..is it the way they work ( I thought they spent a lot of time suited and masked up), or something else.

Just curious.  Some people here begining to suggest it's the vegans and vowing revenge ....poor vegans.... seriously though wonder what  actually  it is.  Working practices maybe. Or just a coincidence. 

  The large call centres with 1000s of people working in close proximity seem to have been spared, but not the processing plants.  

One of the plants involved in the UK I was reading supplies a 3rd of all chicken to UK supermarkets and it has had to close.

Anyone any idea as I know this happened in US.  

Thanks Hz x

Thanks!  Just saw this.  I have worked with ConAgra and Tysons poultry, MN Beef Processors, Beef America, Jennie O Turkey, Packerland Packing and other major meat processing operations.  

There are a number of possibilities including: 

a) work environment - it is true that workers are spaced very closely together - evisceration of chickens, for example, is VERY labor intensive hand-work, there are large tables of (mostly foreign women) who take partially cleaned chickens and hand-remove any residual fecal material, intestines etc. that are left by the automated cleaning systems.  It is almost impossible to avoid close contact between workers in these production lines. 

b) processing atmosphere - as mentioned, these massive factories are huge refrigerators, and so to reduce costs, the chilled plant air is continuously recirculated.   This may help to spread the virus throughout the plant. 

c)  worker habits - my personal theory is that it is primarily due to work breaks, socializing in the break room, smoking etc.  The workers at these plants hang together very closely, and I think social distancing goes to hell in the break rooms.  Also, locker rooms and bathrooms are no doubt a source of transmission, especially since SARS-CoV2 may be spread by fecal/oral route.  Since workers are literally soaking in blood when the shift is over, they must strip down, shower and change before leaving for home.  

d)  social habits - Since many of the workers are poor immigrants who are not paid well, they tend to live in very close quarters (multiple families per house), share transportation to/from work, etc.  The ethnic groups like Mexican, Hmong, Somali and others are also very family-oriented and will tend to congregate in their off time in large family gatherings, sharing ethnic dishes & enjoying family contact.  I'm sure this is part of it.  I've worked with all of these groups, they are quite wonderful, and their children tend to do well in local schools. 

Working in a meat processing plant is sort of like being stuck in hell....the work is VERY hazardous and difficult, pay is lousy, and production drives everything.  The sum of all of above is why meat plants are so susceptible to COVID-19 in my professional opinion.  

p.s. this is a wastewater tank I designed for a poultry plant in MN!   1 million gallons per day of wastewater, you can see the reddish tint from blood in the aeration tank in the foreground.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hazelpad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 26 2020 at 6:10pm


Thanks Chuck for taking the time on the detailed reply...a real eye opener.  I understand now how the combination is creating the perfect storm in these places and why it is just ripping right through them.   

Pretty terrible for people who work there and the local communities.


Hz x

P.s. Edwin thanks for the article you found on temperature. 




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 26 2020 at 10:35pm

Originally posted by Hazelpad Hazelpad wrote:


Thanks Chuck for taking the time on the detailed reply...a real eye opener.  I understand now how the combination is creating the perfect storm in these places and why it is just ripping right through them.   

Pretty terrible for people who work there and the local communities.


Hz x

P.s. Edwin thanks for the article you found on temperature. 

You are so welcome!!  To be on the floor of these massive factories is mind-blowing....chickens are processed at bullet-like speed, and there are many, many steps involved from starting with a living organism to clean/fresh meat packaged to sell!  

There isn't much I haven't seen in my career....I lived in the UK in the early 1990s and ate British beef (they were under international blacklist because of mad cow disease), and now cannot donate blood because of this!  I'm an expert in prions and not worried about CJD in the least.  

As much as I enjoy eating meat, I will gladly transition to meatless substitutes as these become more affordable and available.   The entire concept of industrial meat is rather, well, disgusting!  Be safe, dear!  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arirish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 29 2020 at 12:38am

Chuck -

We have a large  Marshallese and Hispanic population in Arkansas and Covid is tearing through their communities!  Like all first generation Americans they are very family and community oriented and being in the lowest wage  groups, just like my Irish ancestors, there may be several families  and generations living under the same roof working in many different jobs at many different plants or hotels. Many of them don't speak or understand English and can't follow the news about the pandemic! I think your answers A,B,C and D are spot on but I think D is closest to the mark!    


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