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To the Editor:
It was concerning to learn that La Voz de Chatham, a critical resource for the Latinx community, is now accepting support from the nation’s fourth largest poultry producer, Mountaire Farms. Rather than earnestly giving back to the community, Mountaire is once again hiding its sordid past of exploitation and harm behind an apparently progressive move.
In July, an investigation in Scalawag Magazine revealed that poultry companies like Mountaire are apparently using a third-party contractor to hire undocumented workers, in order to pay them less and deprive them of adequate time off if they are infected with COVID-19 — which is running rampant in the plants’ crowded, dangerous working conditions. Further, the company is now facing a complaint from the North Carolina Justice Center, which has alleged that workers are falling ill because of extremely high levels of chemicals like bleach and ammonia. According to an anonymous Mountaire worker, “When we complain, they ignore us … The voice of Hispanics is not valid, as if we were not human beings. I have filed many complaints and nobody does anything. They don’t protect us. They don’t care how employees feel.”
This isn’t the first for Mountaire, which created the “One Health Certified” (OHC) label for its poultry now sold at ALDI supermarkets. The holistic-seeming certification greenwashes, healthwashes, and humanewashes a long history of environmental violations and factory farming without imposing standards stricter than conventional industry practices. While Mountaire’s owner secretly funnels money into anti-labor union work, the company is using marketing tools like OHC and donations to the Latinx community to rake in the support of conscientious consumers and readers alike.
Shoppers must beware of rampant humanewashing from poultry giants like Mountaire when looking to eat — and read news — in line with their values.
Laura Lee Cascada
Front Royal, Virginia
Editor’s note: Mountaire Farms, Chatham Hospital and a number of other business have strongly supported the News + Record’s La Voz de Chatham project. The newspaper is grateful for that support, which allows us to report on the impact of COVID-19 and provide critical news and information to the area’s Latinx population.