As many as 2 million pigs and 2.61 million chickens and hens have been culled so far, owing to COVID 19 lockdown, president of US animal advocacy group Mercy for Animals tells the Guardian. The meat industry is amid a glut of livestock, especially of chickens and pigs, which await another million culls in the upcoming months.
The coronavirus crisis has forced close up to 40 slaughterhouses as COVID-19 infection rates surged among the slaughterhouse workers. According to media reports, half of the United State’s coronavirus hotspots have been linked to meat processing plants that kill and pack different meats.
A Guardian analysis stated, 12 out of 25 US COVID-19 hotspots, which had the highest per capita infection, saw the virus originating from slaughterhouses where employees work close to each other, unable to physically distance themselves.
Owing to the restaurant and takeaway industry hardly hit by the lockdown, sales of fresh meat has plummeted dramatically over the last few months. Meaning, millions of animals stay in suspension in slaughterhouses, as they cannot be slaughtered for food.
To get rid of the livestock, the meat industry will reportedly ‘depopulate’ the farms including chickens and pigs. According to Mercy for Animals, as much as 2 million chickens and 61k egg-laying hens have been killed, yet the numbers remain uncertain. The Guardian estimates a total of 10 million.
According to reports, methods to kill the chicken would include smothering a water-based foam. To cull the pigs, the workers would shoot them, suffocate them to a Co2 overdose, gas them to death, inject an anesthesia overdose, electrocution, and “blunt force” trauma.
President of the US-based Mercy for Animals, Leah Garcés explains, applying blunt force trauma could include slamming the piglets on hard ground while applying Ventilation Shutdown (VSD) could mean “essentially cooking the pigs alive”.
Disturbingly, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) guidelines state the above methods for hog depopulation as “preferred methods” under “constrained circumstances.”
You might also like
In the US alone, as many as 5000 workers employed in different slaughterhouses have contacted the disease. On Monday, 92 workers in a German slaughterhouse in Dissen in Lower Saxony turned out COVID-19 positive according to Deutsche Welle reports.
Experts believed the squalid working environment of the workers both on and out of duty act as a magnet for the disease. Abbatoirs around the world often overcrowd workers for maximum output, bringing them in one place from across communities.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates at least 5k slaughterhouse workers affected by COVID-1 in the US alone. France has reported 100 cases linked to slaughterhouse workers in West Germany. Australi, Brazil, and Spain are among other mentions.
All these facts go on to suggest slaughterhouses are not just hellish for the animals, the employed humans too, are potentially in danger, from cross-contaminating diseases like the coronavirus.
“Bringing large numbers of people together from across a community, having them working on long shifts with plenty of opportunities for transmission, is likely to result in heightened risk,” Archie Clements, an epidemiology professor at Curtin University in Australia told.
One hypothesis suggests the humid and cold environment – a technical need in slaughterhouses – potentially “magnify transmission risk if one person is infected.”
A study previously found a significant number of camels bough to slaughter in Qatar and Doha were careers of MERS, a virus close to the one currently ravaging the planet.
The Ugly Truth
A BBC article titled ‘Confession of a Slaughterhouse Worker‘ published in January 2020 narrates the macabre tale that takes place inside the closed walls of abattoirs.
Of the millions of animals beheaded every year, not all the stories of the ones who do the deed comes out to the general public. A former slaughterhouse worker tells his experience.
“Whether they eat meat or not, most people in the UK have never been inside an abattoir – and for good reason. They are filthy, dirty places. There’s animal feces on the floor, you see and smell the guts, and the walls are covered in blood,” an unnamed narrator wrote.
“As I spent day after day in that large, windowless box, my chest felt increasingly heavy and a grey fog descended over me. At night, my mind would taunt me with nightmares, replaying some of the horrors I’d witnessed throughout the day,”
He explains it is ‘necessary for survival’ to learn to ‘disassociate,’ when working in abattoirs. “You learn to become numb to death and to suffering,” he explains, adding there you need o think of a cow, not as a living being, but “separate them into their saleable edible body parts.”
Read the full story on the BBC.
Vegan alternatives are booming
It’s about time we act to bring a change. The market is flooded with vegan alternatives to the most popular meat products out there.
Although it is not yet proven the current COVID-19 transmits from meat, but the zoonotic origin of the virus is a reason good enough to steer away from potential danger.
“COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus. From phylogenetics analyses undertaken with available full
genome sequences, bats appear to be the reservoir of COVID-19 virus, but the intermediate host(s) has not yet been identified.”
Doug Hines, the founder, and chairman of Atlantic Natural Foods says a natural shortage of meat on shelves has lead people to look for vegan alternatives. From presenting striking taste to proving a cleaner palette sans bloodshed, meat alternatives are increasingly becoming popular in the Western markets.
The same is dairy. Sales of dairy fell significantly from 2008-2018 as Americans are drinking less milk. One of the US’s biggest dairy producers filed for bankruptcy in November last year, the reason being plummeting dairy demands.
On the contrary sales of non-dairy milk have grown dramatically. With tie and arrival, new technology nut and seed milk are better and tastier than ever.