FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 23, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Why Boris Johnson is Even More Dangerous Than Trump
Christopher Ketcham
The American West as Judeo-Christian Artifact
Jack Heyman
Whitewashing American History: the WPA Mural Controversy in San Francisco
David Mattson
Through the Climate Looking Glass into Grizzly Wonderland
David Macaray
Paul Krassner and Me
Thomas Knapp
Peckerwood Populism is About Political Strategy, Not Personal Belief
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange and His Wiki Wicked leaks
Howard Lisnoff
What Has Happened to the U.S. Since the Kids Left Woodstock?
Victor Grossman
“How Could They?” Why Some Americans Were Drawn to the Communist Party in the 1940s
Gary Leupp
Minnesota, White People, Lutherans and Ilhan Omar
Binoy Kampmark
Lunar Narratives: Landing on the Moon, Politics and the Cold War
Richard Ward
Free La Donalda!
July 22, 2019
Michael Hudson
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
Evaggelos Vallianatos
If Japan Continues Slaughtering Whales, Boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mike Garrity
Emergency Alert For the Wild Rockies
Dean Baker
The U.S.-China Trade War: Will Workers Lose?
Jonah Raskin
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American Satirist 
David Swanson
U.S. Troops Back in Saudi Arabia: What Could Go Wrong?
Robert Fisk
American Visitors to the Gestapo Museum Draw Their Own Conclusions
John Feffer
Trump’s Send-Them-Back Doctrine
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
Landscape of Anguish and Palliatives: Predation, Addiction and LOL Emoticons in the Age of Late Stage Capitalism
Karl Grossman
A Farmworkers Bill of Rights
Gary Leupp
Omar and Trump
Robert Koehler
Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War
Susie Day
Mexicans Invade US, Trump Forced to Go Without Toothbrush
Elliot Sperber
Hey Diddle Diddle, Like Nero We Fiddle
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail