Casual Discussion Science Forum @scivillage

Full Version: Are Trump’s immigration policies literally making us sick? (safety practices theory)
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EXCERPT: After years of relative quiet, the past year brought a cluster of incidents—three outbreaks of E. coli in romaine lettuce and a 12 million–pound beef recall thanks to salmonella. [...] What has changed? Immigration policy—specifically, the way Trump’s liberal use of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has diminished immigrants’ sense of security.

Food safety is fragile. Even the most basic practices—making sure crops aren’t getting runoff from feedlots, keeping equipment clean, using clean water, keeping records—take teamwork, training, and consistent follow-through from management. I think consumers and even many folks in the industry take these practices for granted. It sounds obvious to use clean water and wash your hands and keep track of where the food came from.

But to do even the most basic food safety practices, you need workers who can get trained, stay, and put that training to work. Any situation that disrupts the farm workplace, increases turnover, or incentivizes workers to keep quiet and not get noticed has consequences for food safety. And the recent immigration crackdowns are more than disruptive enough to affect farm operations’ safety practices.

Americans have gotten used to thinking of immigrants as a brute manual labor force. I don’t think most of us realize that they’re also the knowledge workers and front-line managers in the food industry, the first line of defense in keeping the food we all eat safe. The bulk of the food industry’s recordkeeping, care and cleaning of equipment, harvest logistics, and more are run by new arrivals to our country.

[...] young Americans are just fine with hard outdoor work, demanding bosses, low pay, and high risk of injury. The thing that takes farm work off the list of worthwhile careers for most Americans is that it essentially requires spending your life on the road with no benefits and little chance of advancement. Once migrant farmworkers learn English, they tend to find other jobs and settle down. That means America’s farm industry is largely staffed by new arrivals. That’s why legal and regulatory actions against immigrants are a surgical strike on our food security. Higher worker attrition and fear of being arrested also make it easier for employers to abuse staff, override valid health concerns, and steal wages.

[...] In my experience, farms that view their workers as people who need time, training, and resources to do their jobs well tend to give it to them. They’re clean, well-organized, and can track where their product went. Those that view their workers as farm equipment that you run and run and run until it breaks down are dirty, flighty, and start resorting to crookedness just to cover their tracks....

So illegals are MORE of a liability than we thought. Got it.