I’ve been following this story for the past few weeks.
11 workers in a Minnesota pork processing plant have come down with a strange neurological ailment which is said to be due to inhaling pig brains. One stated that she’s gotten progressively weaker over the 15 years she’s worked there…but never thought that it was due to the brains. The first thing I thought was, "Don’t they just throw the heads away?" And my second more grizzly thought was, "What are doing with the brains? What are they putting pig brains in?"
Since I live in agribusiness central, I have to ask, "Why Minnesota?" IBP (now Tyson) has run slaughterhouses in my area since before I moved there in the late ’90’s. So, how come I’ve never heard of any issues in Nebraska? What’s unique about the pigs in the Minnesota slaughterhouses?
For one, Tyson/IBP do not handle pig brains. The market is to small for them. And secondly, the pig brains are being inhaled as an aerosol of pig brain particles. Which means it’s uncooked and bloody.
Officials have ruled out toxins as the cause of the illness. So they are now searching for viruses and bacteria. That is highly possibly as pigs eat anything and in view of what has happened to the feed for cows, who knows what they are really being fed!
I also wonder if this could be the human result of ingestion of a pork virus. Genetically engineered feed that have pork virus in it does exist (pork vaccine). There was a case not too long ago of the destruction of millions of dollars worth of corn meant for humans consumption that had contaminated by feed corns with this viral modification.
Scary huh? I shudder to think of what would have happened if it wasn’t caught.
The exposure pieces of bloody pig brain tissue has led to neurological symptoms which include muscle weakness, tingling and numbness of the arms and legs. Several of the workers have been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (that’s a mouthful) or CIDP. CIDP currently affects 1.9 to 7.7 in 100,000. No one knows what causes it. And, the damage may be permanent unless caught early. What is known is that the victims show very highly active (overactive) immune responses which suggests that it is an autoimmune disorder. However all autoimmune disorders have something which turns them on.
Now, back to my earlier question…what are the pig brains being used for? Quality Pork has not revealed what it does with the pork brains. However pig brains are sold in the US both fresh and canned. They are fried and eaten in sandwiches (like mountain oysters) or with gravy. (I knew I stayed away from HEAD cheese for a reason – besides, it looks nasty).
One good thing has come of it: pig brain processing has been suspended at Quality Pork, maybe indefinitely. Still, they processed 1100 brains/hour. If this is indeed a small market, where is that quantity of brains being used…or worse, consumed?
You can learn more about CIDP at their site, CIDP Info.