COVID-19 Appeal: Close slaughterhouses until all workers can be tested
PETA India urges government to protect workers, their families, and communities by ensuring daily covid-19 testing programme
Delhi: As the COVID-19 lockdown eases, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India sent a letter urging the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to call for the closure of all licensed slaughterhouses, at least until a suitable daily COVID-19 testing programme is in place for workers. The group has also appealed to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to make daily COVID-19 testing of workers a mandatory part of slaughterhouse registration.
PETA India notes that slaughterhouses around the world are hotbeds of COVID-19 infections, since maintaining the recommended social distancing among workers is nearly impossible inside them. Recent figures show that in the US, 15,000 slaughterhouse and meat-processing plant employees have COVID-19 and at least 60 workers have died. It was also recently reported that in Europe, more than 1,000 slaughterhouses employees have COVID-19. As the number of cases increases in these facilities, the workers spread the disease to their families and in their communities. PETA India also asks for the permanent closure of all unlicensed slaughterhouses.
The group points out that many slaughterhouses in India lack suitable basic facilities, such as ample water, proper cleaning supplies, adequate drainage, and effective waste disposal. Staff spend their days surrounded by blood, faeces, urine, and associated pathogens, often without wearing shoes or any protective gear.
"If COVID-19 spreads like wildfire through blood-soaked slaughterhouses, as it has in other countries, workers will become major transmitters of the disease to their families and communities," says PETA India Vegan Outreach Coordinator Dr Kiran Ahuja. "No one should be in a filthy slaughterhouse right now – not the workers or the terrified animals whose throats are slit for meat that nobody needs."
COVID-19 is overwhelmingly believed by scientists to have jumped from animals to humans at a live-animal market in China. Previous infectious diseases – including SARS, swine flu, and bird flu – were also traced back to animals used for meat. Meanwhile, slaughterhouse workers are already at risk for zoonotic diseases (illnesses of animal origin) like brucellosis, leptospirosis, and Q fever.
The group also notes that, in addition to helping to combat infectious diseases, each person who goes vegan reduces their risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and spares sensitive animals daily suffering and a terrifying death.