When it comes to food headlines, Springdale, Arkansas can’t catch a break.
In the same city Cargill suspended its turkey processing plant after being linked to the recent Salmonella outbreak, a Tyson Foods truck driver died Wednesday morning after being pinned between two truck trailers outside Tyson’s Springdale poultry plant. I might also add that this is the same Tyson facility where 170 people were hospitalized in June after a chlorine gas leak.
On the truck driver, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened an investigation Thursday that could take up to six months to complete. Tyson Foods safety and transportation personnel are also investigating. Merrill Reynolds, 50, worked for Tyson for almost 27 years.
Although rarely discussed, distribution is a major part of the food supply chain. Truck drivers play a vital role in food safety considering the huge amount of product, and high product turnaround, they are in charge of, which presents countless opportunities for contamination.
Just last week, another truck accident killed a Pilgrim’s Pride (subsidiary of the Brazilian food giant, JBS S.A.) worker at a protein conversion plant (where leftover chicken parts become animal feed) in Texas.
Deficient oversight at these giant industry plants seems to be a recurring problem, not helped by the lack of whistleblower protections for meat industry workers. The employees charged with handling our food supply need an environment that not only keeps them safe, but also protects food products from being compromised.
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.