The union intervenes after the outbreaks registered in Germany, the USA and Brazil. Grasselli: “In Italy the Veterinary Services and the Prevention Departments have done well, no Covid outbreak – 19 and the situation is under control”.
JUNE 23 – “The number of people infected by Covid-19 among the operators of one of the largest meat processing plants in Europe is increasing, in Guetersloh, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. Of the over 6500 workers, many in quarantine, more than 1300 were affected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Even in the United States of America the phenomenon is worrying the health authorities. It is good to remember in the first place that the outbreaks that are affecting the slaughterhouses in Europe and in the world, in particular in the USA and Brazil, do not depend on the animals or meat that they are worked on. Then it is necessary to contextualize the situations in which the workers in this type of work became ill or were asymptomatic infected. It is no coincidence that this did not happen in Italy “. This is what Dr. Aldo Grasselli, National Secretary of the Italian Veterinary Union of Public Medicine.
“The slaughtering plants – he continues – by definition are” first category unhealthy industries “, are therefore places very exposed to contamination and for this reason the rules and strict hygiene-sanitary practices must always be respected to protect workers and avoid contamination . In order to make a judgment based on the phenomenon it is necessary to frame it according to the typical criteria of epidemiological investigations, therefore it is necessary to keep in mind that the food sector during the pandemic was more active than usual also for the psychosis that led to stockpiling of food. Work rates would therefore have been more intense and tight in those countries where outbreaks occurred, in Italy work rates have obviously remained compatible with the protection of workers “.
“A risk factor – emphasizes Grasselli – is undoubtedly linked to the particular atmosphere of the slaughtering or meat cutting environments where water is used for washing and cleaning in order to keep the bacterial flora under control, which is concentrated in those environments particularly unhealthy due to the presence of feces and animal blood and consequently the high humidity and the higher vapor content may have increased the spread of the virus from an asymptomatic or symptomatic person by means of a “droplet” to other workers who were unable to adequately protect themselves with PPE (personal protective equipment) that the Italian law Dlgs n. 81/2008 prescribes. “
“We should not underestimate the frequent temperature range to which workers entering and leaving cold storage rooms, especially those of freezing, which has a significant impact on the respiratory tract, are underestimated. Precisely for the conditions mentioned above, all workers in the slaughterhouses must be equipped with anti-accident protection and masks and visors to protect them from the aspiration of pathogens, even more where it is more difficult to maintain safety distances. Lastly, we cannot hide that slaughtering is a tiring and dangerous job, which is often assigned in countries where outbreaks have occurred to workers who are poorly protected from a contractual and trade union point of view, often recruited by self-styled “cooperatives” who mask forms of Corporal who does not guarantee protection against low wages and extreme precariousness. We have confirmed that in some countries that have experienced outbreaks if some worker recruited by the hired man asks for some more guarantees he is immediately fired “.
“These workers – he remarks – who have been affected by Covid 19, therefore, like many others in the agricultural-zootechnical-food supply chain, are poor and defenseless workers, who live in humble houses or even in dilapidated shacks, often overcrowded, where promiscuity contributes to promoting the spread of infectious and contagious diseases. Phase 2/3 is not free from Covid-19, therefore attention must be kept high, also in Italy, by monitoring the health of all those who have started working again. The Italian meat industry must also be protected from generalized news and from unfounded associations with that of other countries. “
“First of all – continues Grasselli – because Italy has not been affected by cases of Covid-19 in slaughterhouses, secondly because a crisis of confidence mounted artfully towards our food production would be of interest to the competition and would prove to be a disaster for the whole country. Serious, economic and human damage. Let’s not forget that in Italian slaughterhouses and in meat cutting and processing plants the management of operations is inspected and certified by Official Veterinarians of the National Health Service who are constantly present along all the steps of the supply chain “.
“The task of the Veterinary Public Health Services – says leader Sivemp – consists in guaranteeing good processing practices that also involve the protection of the health of the workers and that of the Veterinary Inspectors themselves who in those slaughterhouses and in those laboratories guarantee respect for well-being animal and the healthiness of the meats that end up on the tables of consumers. In Italy we have had no outbreaks in this sector, our companies have operated correctly, however we cannot think that the risk is zero “.
“For this reason – he concludes – it is useful to constantly update the guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 also among the workers of the meat processing plants, as done so far in our country. In order to maintain a high level of epidemic surveillance according to the ‘One Health’ approach, that is, through a collaboration between veterinary food hygienists and doctors (in particular medical hygienists and occupational doctors), such as WHO and OIE (Organization for some time worldwide for animal health) suggest that it be done worldwide, taking the Italian Prevention Departments as a reference model “.June 23, 2020
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