Tyson’s COVID-19 Closure Prompts PETA Appeal

With Fatal Viruses Linked to Animal Flesh, Tyson Is Urged to Reinvent Itself as a Vegan-Meat Producer

For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2020

Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Springdale, Ark.

After a Tyson pig slaughterhouse in Iowa was shuttered because dozens of its employees tested positive for COVID-19­­—and because workers at one of its plants in Tennessee may be infected as well—PETA has written to Tyson CEO Noel W. White, calling on him to get ahead of the curve and transition to producing exclusively vegan meat. PETA is offering to help cover the cost of retraining the company’s employees.

“The filthy conditions inside slaughterhouses and meat markets are breeding grounds for swine flu, SARS, avian flu, and other diseases and threaten the health of every human being on the planet,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on Tyson to ditch its current business model, recognize the growing interest in plant-based foods as well as the necessity to move away from foods made from animal flesh, and reinvent itself as a producer of healthy and 100% humane vegan meat.”

Swine flu began on a U.S. factory farm, and the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese “wet market,” where live and dead animals were sold for human consumption. Health authorities confirm that influenza viruses and coronaviruses are zoonotic (transmissible from other animals to humans). Grocery store sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal “products” have grown 29% in the past two years to $5 billion.

Last week, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—held a demonstration outside the shuttered slaughterhouse. Photos are available here.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to White follows.

April 13, 2020

Noel White, CEO

Tyson Foods

Dear Mr. White,

After learning that Tyson shut down a pig slaughterhouse in Columbus Junction, Iowa, after more than two dozen workers contracted COVID-19, I’m writing with a lifesaving suggestion. Why not modernize and get ahead of the consumer curve by shutting down meat production permanently and making the transition to producing only vegan meat instead? PETA would chip in to defray the cost of retraining employees.

Filthy factory farms threaten everyone’s health—not just that of workers and meat-eaters—by providing a breeding ground for deadly diseases. Swine flu—which came from farmed pigs—has killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and bird flu can spread easily on severely crowded chicken farms. Now, while the world is battling the current pandemic—which originated in a meat market—it’s crucial that all of us, including Tyson, do our part to make positive changes that will help prevent future outbreaks.

Even before the current crisis, working on a kill floor was a dangerous and dirty job. Workers are obligated to keep up with absurdly fast slaughter speeds, in addition to witnessing and participating in revolting practices, such as hanging live chickens upside down by their legs and stunning petrified pigs. Now they also have to worry about becoming infected with COVID-19.

Tyson already produces some vegan meats, so while the writing is on the wall, please switch to producing only vegan meats, which aid human health, the environment, and, of course, animals.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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