Thirteenth Hormel Worker Sick
One more worker from the Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minn., may have the same neurological symptoms as 12 other plant employees, the Star Tribune reported Tuesday.
The newspaper reported Feb. 1 that workers who were suffering varying degrees of numbness and tingling in their extremities may have a previously undiscovered neurological disease that is being called progressive inflammatory neuropathy, or PIN.
Investigators believe that the workers contracted the disease when they inhaled droplets of liquefied pig brain tissue. For some unknown reason, proteins in the pig brain may have caused the workers’ immune systems to attack their own nerve tissue.
The meatpacking plant liquefies the brain tissue using a high-compression air system. The tissue is then blown into the air as droplets. According to Kare 11, the finished product is frozen and sold as food in the Southern United States and Asia. When the investigation began in December, the processing plant stopped using the air-compression system.
Kare 11 reported that the thirteenth worker was not stationed near the air-compression system like the first twelve employees were. However, the thirteenth worker was exposed to the brain tissue at a different stage in the rendering process.