Monday, June 08, 2009

A Career Track in These Unsettled Times: Working The "Head Table" at a Slaughterhouse

I've been going through my old e-mails today, and I found one I sent to myself a while ago that I mean to write a blog post about but never got around to. There's no real short version of this story -- you really must read it all.

In a rapid-fire process that is noisy, smelly and bloody, severed pigs' heads are cut up at the head table at a rate of more than 1,100 an hour. Workers slice off the cheek and snout meat, then insert a nozzle in the head and blast air inside until the light pink mush that is the brain tissue squirts out from the base of the skull.

Kruse, whose job was to remove meat from the back of the animals' heads, said she doesn't recall any spray or mist from the de-braining. The head-table workers were protected by safety glasses, helmets, gloves and belly guards, but none wore anything over their mouths or noses, she said.

Why this interest in what they were wearing? Because 11 employees at the same plant in Minnesota got a strange nervous system disorder after working the head table shift one too many times, and they think it came from pig tissue.

Anyway, something to think about if you're tired of interviewing at Macy's.


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