Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Good Clean Fun at the Slaughterhouse

If you aren't a vegetarian (I’m not either), this grossout story might change your mind. Please put away all food and beverages before reading on.

We’re going to visit Quality Pork Processors Inc. in Austin, Minnesota. They have a work area called the Head Table. This is where workers cut the pigs’ heads open (hopefully AFTER the pig has already been slaughtered). Then they shoot compressed air into the skulls to get the brain matter out.

Severed pigs’ heads are processed at the Head Table at the rate of 1,100 per hour. Workers slice off the cheek and the snout and then insert a nozzle into the skull. The compressed air causes the brain matter to come blasting out of the base of the skull.

In addition to being gross, this process is a health hazard. Eleven workers from this plant — and all of them were employed at the Head Table — have developed severe numbness and other neurological symptoms. Five of these workers have been diagnosed with a rare immune disorder — Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) — which attacks the nerves. It produces numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms and legs. And the damage is often permanent.

Two neurologists from the Mayo Clinic think these illnesses were caused by inhaling airborne brain matter.

Mmmmmm… Yummy yummmm. Big steaming plate of ham, anyone?

Ahh, Pig Brain Mist — l’essence de L’Oreal.

Quality Pork Processors Inc. supplies their products to Hormel Foods Inc.

Minnesota health officials are saying the public is not at risk. And the Titanic is unsinkable.

On a related note: California might have a 2008 ballot initiative that would ban some of the most inhumane Factory Farm practices. The organization has until this February to collect enough signatures to qualify for the November 2008 ballot. There's nothing treehugging or touchy-feely about this initiative. Basically it would require that farm animals in cages have enough room to stand and turn around.

There's no online petition to click on, but if you're a California resident or would like to forward this information to anyone you know in California, here's their website.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Randal Graves said...

Ugh. I try to keep up with such dastardly practices and happily add my names to such petitions and have even called a couple of local county prosecutors when such things have happened in Ohio, but even stories like this haven't turned me into a vegetarian, though, on the surface, they really should, you know?

Hey scientists, get cracking on teriyaki chicken flavored salad, and I'll never eat meat again.

December 12, 2007 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in North Carolina we have chicken processing plants and they have something called "the gut tank." The smell alone is enough to turn you off from anything stronger than clear water for days!
Also, seeing an 18 wheeler going 70 mph up the highway loaded with wire cages full of hunkering chickens is pretty disturbing...

December 12, 2007 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: Teriyaki chicken flavored salad, there you go. I bought a package of tofu "sausages" once. I tried part of one sausage; it was so Godawful I pitched out the rest of the package.

Rockync: The gut tank, that sounds fragrant. I used to drive past a chicken processing plant on my commute. I think most of their employees were illegal aliens. That's gotta be one of those jobs where they hire illegals because no American would work there.

December 12, 2007 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Just like everything else it isn't harmful to people, even though several including some at Mayo Clinic became ill.

Only in Corporate America.

December 12, 2007 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Larry: Yup, it's of, by and for Big Business. Those sniveling workers should be grateful they have jobs.

December 12, 2007 at 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Harper said:
"I think most of their employees were illegal aliens. That's gotta be one of those jobs where they hire illegals because no American would work there."
LOL, Tom, I was thinking this but wasn't going to say it....

December 12, 2007 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Rockync: That sure was the case with that chicken processing plant I used to live near. The town itself was heavily Hispanic so that probably helped. But that's the last kind of job I'd ever take. I don't mind heavy physical labor or jobs that are tedious; but something gross like working with animal bodyparts -- no way.

December 12, 2007 at 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also am not afraid of hard work, but I too draw the line at gross and likely to produce dry heaves as a job description. I'd also include living within 5 miles of a chicken house which also smells really awful or living within 10 miles of a pig farm which is REALLY horrible smelling. Now understand, that I'm a farm girl so animal odors in general don't bother me...

December 12, 2007 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Okay, okay. I'm seriously thinking about the vegan thing.

December 13, 2007 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Rockync: I've never been to a factory farm, or even near one, as far as I know (and I'm sure I'd remember). I worked on a dairy farm one summer during high school. But that was a small family farm. They had somewhere between 100 and 200 Holsteins. The cows seemed to have it pretty good; they were out in the pasture most of the time, except when they were brought into the barn to be milked.

I'm sure most of the large-scale dairy operations are as bad as any factory farm.

Candace: I'm not a vegetarian myself, so I'm not preaching. But I try to patronize factory farms as little as possible. We even bought an organic turkey this past Thanksgiving, whatever that means (other than costing twice as much).

December 13, 2007 at 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try to grow my own as much as possible. I also buy only free range chicken eggs and all my meat comes from a small local meat processing place that butchers locally raised animals which reduces the risk of e coli contamination and animals fed yuckky stuff like growth hormones, etc. We used to raise young stock for dairy farms (Holsteins). These days I'm putting up fence for goats and I'm getting a few chickens in the spring. What can I say, it's in my blood...

December 13, 2007 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Rockync: I'm glad you're doing what you're doing. More people should be raising their own food and patronizing local farmers. We buy most of our produce from the local farmers' market.

December 13, 2007 at 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn. Suddenly I have an urge to go back to the sticks and procure my meat the way I did when I was a kid, with a shotgun...

December 14, 2007 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jolly Roger: Yup, there's a case for that. At least you know what you're getting, and the hunted animal hasn't spent its entire life in a tiny cage eating nothing but chemicals and excrement.

December 14, 2007 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

After seeing "Fast Food Nation" I almost didn't ever have another McDonald's burger. Almost.

This may have the same effect on pork consumption. I haven't eaten anything by Hormel in quite a long time so that's not a probem.

I wish the bill to protect farm animals was a national one instead of just in California. I try to only buy free range chicken and eggs, and grass-fed beef, etc. but I'm sure all of it has room for improvement in terms of how the animals are treated.

December 15, 2007 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mauigirl: The more we know about the making and processing of animal products, the less appetizing they are. It's too easy to think of meat and dairy products as just something that appears on the supermarket shelf all neatly wrapped. (I never saw Fast Food Nation; I should check it out.)

Perhaps all animal products should be sold only at the slaughterhouse or the processing plant. If customers had to listen to the animals screeching and bleating and smell all the blood and guts, meat sales would go waaaay down.

December 15, 2007 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Mauigirl, I read "Fast Food Nation" about five years ago and it cut my consumption of fast-foods and prepared foods by at least half, probably more like 3/4. Since reading about chicken production, I have eaten KFC about five times in five years. I will have to take a look at the movie!

Tom, that post is pretty disgusting, all right. Did you ever see that Saturday Night Live fake commercial for the "Cluckin' Chicken Restaurant" by Robert Smigel which featured Clucky Chicken, voiced by Adam Sandler, talking about how he is prepared for us to eat? There is a transcript of the skit at


Pretty horrifically sick stuff, but pretty hilarious too.

December 16, 2007 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: I remember that SNL skit. Like you said, sick but funny. I think if people knew more about factory farms and meat processing, they'd consume fewer animal products and be more selective about what they buy.

December 16, 2007 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

This story was pretty big news here. I hate to say it, but my first thought on hearing about it was karma's a bitch. However, if that was the case, the assholes that own the factory farms would be the ones coming down with this.

I'm glad I'm a vegetarian.

December 16, 2007 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lizzy: Yup, what goes around comes around, that's for sure. It's too bad only the workers have gotten those symptoms, but the factory farm owners will get theirs.

December 17, 2007 at 12:12 AM  

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