President Donald Trump is expected to take executive action as soon as Tuesday to declare meat packing plants in the U.S. essential businesses, keeping the processing facilities open despite concerns over worker and food safety in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
The movegenerated criticism from labor unions, animal rights groups, and consumer advocates who charged the president was acting with gross negligence and disregard.
“We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork, and poultry products,” Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union president Stuart Applebaum said in a statement.
“Employers and government must do better,” he added. “If they want to keep the meat and poultry supply chain healthy, they need to make sure that workers are safe and healthy.”
Meat processing plants have been at the center of outbreaks in numerous states, leading food safety advocates on social media to call for a shutdown of the industry:
“The federal government should be stepping in to supplement food distribution networks to get our abundant frozen meat supplies to stores and food banks that need them.” (Photo: AP/Nati Harnik)