FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 19, 2020
Meat Inspector Speaks Out Against Unsafe COVID-19 Plant Conditions
WASHINGTON — Since the beginning of the pandemic, Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign has closely followed the impact of COVID-19 in meat plants. Now, a whistleblower who once worked at the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa is speaking out against unsafe conditions in his former workplace. This comes amidst a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the plant, which accuses supervisors of wagering money on the number of employees that would fall ill from COVID-19.
Anthony Vallone, a USDA meat inspector for over four years, commented:
“It’s all about the bottom line. I’d like to be able to say that this was one bad plant, or one bad company, but unfortunately this kind of talk is common. Plant managers don’t care about these slaughter workers – they yell at them, threaten, mistreat them. I worked at Waterloo for a week before Covid-19. There was a gloom there – they were awful to the workers then. But with the pandemic, Waterloo, and the whole industry failed workers and the USDA failed its inspectors, too. So many plants refused to provide PPE or enforce social distancing. What’s worse, is they treated the whole pandemic as a joke in the beginning. Now, even with deaths and hospitalizations these slaughterhouses treat Covid-19 like a stigmatized ‘social disease’ – like mono or herpes. People dying is no laughing matter.”
Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt commented:
“I have received anonymous complaints from the Waterloo plant since the start of the pandemic. I have heard that this plant is particularly unkind to workers and did little or nothing to mitigate the risks of Covid-19 spread. Sadly, the mistreatment of workers in slaughter facilities is well-known. But what people are missing is that under the USDA’s new high-speed slaughter models, it is the workers who are being asked to speak up when they see problems with meat quality. With little or no protections, if workers can’t safely speak up in the interest of their own health, what makes the USDA think the plants will listen to workers when it comes time for them to speak on behalf of the safety of your food?”
Contact: Andrew Harman, Director of Communications
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x156
Government Accountability Project
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.