The head tables are gone at
Quality Pork Producers (QPP) in Austin, MN, Indiana Packers Corp. in
Delphi, IN, and Hormel Foods Corp. in Fremont, NE.
But the disease
doctors think head table operations caused--Progressive Inflammatory
Neuropathy (PIN)--is not.
In late November
than 20 people demonstrated at the Quality Pork Producers plant in Austin
against the treatment workers who developed PIN have received from the pork
They carried signs
saying, The Hospitals Prescribed Us Steroids, Science Doesn't Have Cure For Our
Disease and Hormel and QPP Guilty For Our Disease.
Eighteen workers at
QPP--five at Indiana Packers Corp. and at least one at the Hormel Foods Corp.
in Fremont, NE-- have developed the mystery disease since November 2006
characterized by tingling and numbness in the limbs leading to weakness,
debility and chronic fatigue. Some have been hospitalized.
Nor is PIN easily treated.
None of the patients
Dr. Daniel Lachance, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, has seen has completely
recovered he told the Associated Press.
While some PIN
patients stabilize and improve--requiring only pain medication--others have
relapsed and/or had to undergo treatments to suppress their immune systems, say
One worker's symptoms
improved after "a period of rehabilitation," says Neurology Today but, "a
few months after returning to work developed the polyradicular pattern
experienced by other workers."
Susan Kruse, a 16 year
QPP worker, was reduced to a walker earlier this year and told the Associated
Press in April she was unable to stand on her feet long enough to work despite
getting intravenous drug treatments every other week.
slaughterhouse operations, Big Pork isn't big on the public seeing or knowing
what happens at the head tables.
Nor does it appreciate
the press reporting food scares which "food disparagement laws" on
the books in 13 states were designed to gag.
"aerosolized blood and organ particulate matter" a.k.a. brain mist is
central to the PIN illness--and a recognized risk
in the Occupational Health Act.
Workers who developed
PIN were in charge of turbo-charging a hog's brains out through the base
of its skull or snout with a high pressure hose and "pouring" the
brains into containers for shipment as a human food delicacy.
While a Plexiglas shield protected the hose operator
from--is there a euphemism?-- blowback, other table workers had exposed arms
and no face shields to prevent breathing or swallowing the pulverized brain
Scientists theorize the "operational byproduct"
provoked an autoimmune, inflammatory response
in workers' "nerve roots proximally, and peripheral motor nerves distally"
and treat PIN patients with steroids or intravenous immunoglobulins.
Why would PIN surface
now when head table operations are not new? Some theorize it has a long
incubation period; others that the ever increasing speeds at slaughter houses
are causing--again, no euphemism--more splatter.
The important thing
says the Minnesota Health Department is that original reports that the workers
had multiple sclerosis are false.
And that the pork that
neurologically impaired workers so severely they are struggling to walk a year
after they were exposed to it, is safe to eat.
So safe scientists
actually sought "chemical toxins at the plant" as an initial source
PIN (See: carbon monoxide leak at
World Trade Center collapse site.)
So safe the Minnesota
Health Department includes a recipe for scrambled brains at the end of its
53-page "Investigation into Risk Factors for Progressive Inflammatory
Neuropathy" report along with a photo of a can of Rose Pork Brains with
And so safe no one
questions whether pulverizing pork brains on an assembly line until they are
airborne might be the same perversion of the food chain that brought us SARS
and Mad Cow. (Caused by unhygienic slaughter of civet cats and manmade
cannibalism in farm animals respectively.)
Back at the
demonstration, Salma Hernandez tells the Post-Bulletin she is here for her
"He is 38 years
old and has worked at QPP for 18 years. He is suffering from this disease. He
goes to Mayo Clinic, but I have not seen any improvement in his health."
QPP worker Roberto
Olmedo-Hernandez tells the Austin Daily Herald he is getting worse and his
"kids are asking me if I'm going to die."
QPP CEO Kelly Wadding
says the company is cooperating with workers, health officials and the news
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