As families across America prepare for large feasts this holiday season, central to those meals is a large bird. Stuffed. Trussed. Seasoned. Roasted. Fried. Slow-cooked. People give a great deal of thought to the ways in which the turkey, chicken, or duck is prepared. However, less thought is generally given to the labor and peril of workers who toiled to get it kitchen-ready.
A recent investigative report by The Investigative Fund and Slate Magazine reveals workers in the poultry industry endure grueling conditions, particularly in the lead up to major holidays toward the end of the year. Many of the workers are immigrants, the jobs are low-paying, and the rates of workplace injury and illness are high.
One worker explained the frenetic pace of being required to slice and de-bone the de-feathered turkeys with sharp knives – 47 birds per minute. That works out to 1,410 birds an hour, or 11,000 per shift. That’s in a normal shift. In preparation for the holidays, the pace is even faster.