Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Don’t Breathe the Meat

The head tables where workers use compressed air to turn brain mass into a slurry are gone at Quality Pork Producers (QPP) in Austin, MN, Indiana Packers Corp. in Delphi, IN and Hormel Foods Corp. in Fremont, NE.

But the neurological disease which the tables are blamed for causing in at least 24 workers in 2007 and 2008–Progressive Inflammatory Neuropathy (PIN)–is not.

In late November more than 20 people demonstrated at the Quality Pork Producers plant in Austin against the treatment workers who developed the non-refractory PIN have received from the pork processor.

They carried signs saying, The Hospitals Prescribed Us Steroids, Science Doesn’t Have Cure For Our Disease and Hormel and QPP Guilty For Our Disease.

Eighteen workers at QPP, five at Indiana Packers Corp. and at least one at the Hormel Foods Corp. in Fremont, NE have developed the mysterious autoimmune disease characterized by tingling and numbness of the limbs and progressive weakness and debility leading to wheelchairs, paralysis and hospitalization in some cases.

Nor have any of the patients Dr. Daniel Lachance, a Mayo Clinic neurologist leading PIN treatment, has seen completely recovered, he told the Associated Press.

While some PIN patients have stabilized or improved and require only pain medication others have had to undergo treatment with intravenous immunoglobulins for their embattled immune systems say published reports.

One worker improved after “a period of rehabilitation,” says Neurology Today but “a few months after returning to work developed the polyradicular pattern experienced by other workers,” and relapsed.

Susan Kruse, a 16 year QPP worker, was reduced to a walker in early 2008 and unable to stand on her feet long enough to work four months later despite intravenous drug treatments every other week according to the Associated Press.

Of course press coverage of PIN has caused a transparency Big Pork does not appreciate.

Not only does seeing what happens at the head tables–and in the slaughterhouse in general–ruin appetites, potential food scares are the very reason behind Big Food’s anti-First Amendment “food disparagement laws” passed in 13 states in the 1990s.

But how could the press omit mention of the “aerosolized blood and organ particulate matter” a.k.a. brain mist when it is thought to cause PIN? And it’s a recognized risk in the Occupational Health Act?

It turns out that pork workers who developed PIN were in charge of turbo-charging a hog’s brains out its snout with a high pressure hose and “pouring” the brain soup into containers for shipment overseas and to parts of the US where it is eaten as a human food delicacy.

While a Plexiglas shield protected the hose operator from–is there a euphemism?–blowback, other head table workers had exposed arms and no face shields to prevent breathing or swallowing the pulverized brain material, say investigators.

“The heads come down to rendering with a lot of energy, causing splattering of some brain matter,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis confirms to Food Engineering magazine.

Scientists theorize PIN is caused when brain mist provokes an autoimmune, inflammatory response in the peripheral nervous systems of exposed workers, but can’t explain why it would happen now since head tables aren’t new.

Some theorize it has a long incubation period; others that the ever increasing speeds on slaughterhouse lines make for a greater splat factor.

The important thing say state health and ag officials is the disease which left workers unable to walk a year after they contracted it is not contagious and the meat is safe to eat!

So safe, meat executives initially sought “chemical toxins at the plant” for the cause of PIN (see: gas leaks at the World Trade Center collapse.)

So safe the Minnesota Health Department tucks a photo of a can of Rose Pork Brains with Milk Gravy in between photos of the head table in its final 53-page PIN investigation report–and a recipe for Scrambled Brains which serves four.

MARTHA ROSENBERG is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. She can be reached at: mrosenberg@evmark.org

 

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail