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Don’t Snort Pig Brains

pigs in cage

I have been following this story in The Washington Post and The NYT. I feel that I have to share it with you all. There are now at least 13 pork processing workers being diagnosed with a new disease, Progressive Inflammatory Neuropathy. What makes it so interesting is that it came to light because a medical INTERPRETER working with Spanish speaking meat packers noticed that two patients she interpreted for had similar, serious health problems. This is a fascinating case both from a cultural competency perspective/interpreting services and an occupational medicine/health and safety perspective. What a great pick up by an interpreter!

Long time health and safety activist, Jordan Barab, wrote the following:

Don’t Snort Pig Brains

Oh, and it turns out that inhaling vaporized pig brains is probably bad for workers – not that anyone thought to figure this out before requiring workers to remove the pigs’ brains with compressed air forced into the skull through the hole where the spinal cord enters

Was this problem discovered by the company, or occupational health experts? No. An interpreter working with Spanish-speaking patients at a medical clinic in southern Minnesota heard the same story about strange health problems from two Minnesota pig processing workers doing the same job.