In Europe and US, outbreaks break out in meat processing plants. In Italy, a poorly transparent supply chain makes it impossible to understand what really happens.

Slaughterhouses in Italy played a decisive role in promoting the spread of Covid19, as happened in the rest of the world?

In recent months, a very long series of outbreaks, sometimes with hundreds of positive cases, has emerged in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants in the United States, Europe and many other countries, in particular Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Australia. No outbreaks were reported in Italy during the same period, with the exception of a single case of a slaughterhouse in Puglia, in Southern Italy. What is unclear is whether this virtuous distinction of our country is linked to better working conditions or to a lower transparency and availability of data: unlike other countries, in the Italian plants even after the finding of small outbreaks, workers have not been tested.

Key findings

The article published on L’Espresso deeply analyzes what happened in the Italian slaughterhouses during the Covid19 epidemics, and why no outbreaks occurred in the meat plants, with the exception of an outbreak in a slaughterhouse in Southern Italy. The key findings from the report are:

  • In Europe at the beginning of June there were 2,670 infections among slaughterhouse and meat processing plant employees, in addition to other 1,300 cases discovered in a single outbreak in a German plant at the end of the month.
  • In the United States at the beginning of June there were over 20 thousand cases of infection among employees of slaughterhouses and meat processing plants.
  • In the outbreaks that emerged in Europe, the majority of employees were asymptomatic: the outbreaks emerged only after a campaign of test, carried out by companies and health authorities on all employees after few positive cases were confirmed.
  • Only one outbreak emerged in Italy until June, in the southern town of Palo del Colle. The slaughterhouse was also the only one where the company and the local authorities choose to test all the employees after having found few potivive workers.
  • In the biggest slaughterhouses of Northern Italy, the largest being located on the edge of the first national major outbreak in ​​Codogno, no tests were carried out on the workers, even when several isolated cases of Covid were found.
  • In the first months of the epidemic, many slaughterhouses intensified their production, imposing mandatory overtime on all employees or hiring new workers.
  • At the end of June, two other outbreaks emerged in two plants in the province of Mantua, detected by a campaign of tests carried out on all the employees.

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