Merced County health officials have temporarily shut down Foster Farms’ poultry plant in Livingston, California, after 358 employees tested positive for COVID-19, and eight workers died. According to officials, the facility is the source of a large percentage of the area’s COVID-related fatalities.
Since the pandemic began, slaughterhouses around the United States have become COVID-19 hotspots. In large part, this is because major meat companies have failed to protect their workers. Workers must often stand elbow to elbow and report that they have been denied masks and other protective gear. As a result, according to the Food and Environment Reporting Network, at least 492 meatpacking plants are closed due to outbreaks, and at least 57,234 workers are confirmed sick. At least 280 have died.
While the Foster Farms outbreak began on June 29, health officials shut the facility down for failure to comply with two formal county directives to increase testing and safety measures. In a statement, California attorney general Xavier Becerra said:
Foster Farms’ poultry operation in Livingston, California, has experienced an alarming spread of COVID-19 among its workers. Nobody can ignore the facts: It’s time to hit the reset button on Foster Farms’ Livingston plant.
Foster Farms has a history of disregarding suffering. In 2015, Mercy For Animals investigated a Foster Farms poultry facility in Fresno, California—not even a two-hour drive from Livingston. Our undercover investigator documented horrific cruelty, including chickens being thrown, punched, and scalded alive.
Sadly, the meat industry treats animals and workers as expendable—and profits as they suffer. As part of a coalition of social justice organizations, Mercy For Animals is calling on meat companies to eliminate some of the worst animal cruelty in their operations while adequately protecting vulnerable workers.
Help us make a difference by pledging to go #MeatFreeInSolidarity with animals and the workers whose lives are at stake. Whether you go #MeatFreeInSolidarity for a day, for a week, or for good, you will make a difference. Take the pledge today.