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Chicken slaughterhouses should not be regarded as ‘essential’ | READER COMMENTARY

Two signs hang on a fence outside the Perdue Farms chicken processing plant in Salisbury. One says "Thanks for helping feed America during this challenging time" in English, Haitian Creole and Spanish. The other reads "Celebrating over 2 million safe hours." May 13, 2020.
Two signs hang on a fence outside the Perdue Farms chicken processing plant in Salisbury. One says "Thanks for helping feed America during this challenging time" in English, Haitian Creole and Spanish. The other reads "Celebrating over 2 million safe hours." May 13, 2020. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

I went vegan 27 years ago when I was living in Baltimore primarily out of concern for chickens and other animals who are killed for food. But the treatment of slaughterhouse workers isn’t ethical, either (“Salisbury made a national list of coronavirus hot spots. How many cases came from its poultry plant? Maryland won’t say,” May 15). They’re forced to work in crowded, filthy conditions and typically aren’t given sick pay so many work even when ill. Before COVID-19, they “only” had to worry about the fact that, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace safety records, U.S. slaughterhouse employees are three times more likely to sustain a serious injury than the average American worker. About 17 “severe” accidents occur each month in U.S. slaughterhouses. Approximately two slaughterhouse workers lose a limb to machinery each week while others lose an eye or suffer from fractured fingers, second-degree burns or head trauma.

The bloody, gruesome process of slaughtering, cutting up and packaging the corpses of once-sentient individuals can also cause workers to suffer from mental health problems.

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Fortunately, meat isn’t essential. Shuttering slaughterhouses — and retraining meatpackers to be part of the booming vegan food industry — will benefit everyone, humans and animals alike.

Heather Moore, Norfolk, Va.

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The writer is employed by the PETA Foundation.

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