Many corona infections among slaughterhouse employees: is eating meat still safe?

Many slaughterhouse employees in the Netherlands, Germany and the United States were already infected with the corona virus. Why do slaughterhouses seem to be so vulnerable to Covid-19? And is it still safe to eat meat?

The most recent corona outbreak in slaughterhouses occurred very close to home, namely in Groenlo in the Dutch province of Gelderland. As many as 45 employees were found to be infected. The authorities in Gelderland spoke of a “worrying” situation. This is reported, among other things, by the Dutch news website Nu.

(Relaxation of corona measures: this is allowed again from today.)

Employment agencies


All 600 employees of the slaughterhouse Vion Groenlo are quarantined preventively at home. The local care staff has also started a contact investigation with the persons involved.

At least three quarters of the employees are said to be temporary workers from Poland and Romania. Many of them have their residence just across the border in Germany and commute daily to the Dutch border province. As a result, it will not be easy to conduct contact research with them.

(Dries Van Langenhove caught at lockdown party by police.)

Slaughterhouses vulnerable


It is not entirely clear why slaughterhouses and meat processing companies are so vulnerable. In the United States and Germany, slaughterhouses also had to close after large numbers of corona infections were found among employees.

In Germany as well as in the US, the working and living conditions of the employees would leave much to be desired and it would not have been possible to engage in social distancing. That is why Berlin introduced a law last week that prohibits temporary agency work for meat processors from 1 January 2021.

(Minister De Crem excludes new lockdown.)

Small living and living space

Just like in Germany, many of our employees at slaughterhouses and meat processors also have Eastern European temporary workers. They mainly come from Poland and Romania. These people often live very close together and are usually housed by employment agencies. It is not known how many corona infections have fallen in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants in our country.

(Summer camps and playgrounds can continue under certain conditions.)

Is meat consumption dangerous?

Do the above facts mean that it is dangerous for us to eat meat? No. “The fact that employees process meat probably does not play a role in the spread of the virus,” the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) assures Nu.

The government agency states that food safety is not endangered by the contamination in the factory: “Firstly, there are no known cases of people being contaminated by food. The European food authority pointed this out earlier. In addition, the virus needs a living body to survive and there is enough time between the moment the meat is in the factory and is with the consumer. ”

“Meat is usually heated before consumption and people are already careful with raw products.” Even if the coronavirus were on a certain piece of meat, the chance of infection is very small.


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