Agribusiness Freedom Foundation  
Home arrow Sentinel e-Newsletter arrow November 2006 arrow Fast Food Nation: Do You Want Lies with That?
Main Menu
About AFF
Latest Op/Ed Release
Sentinel e-Newsletter
Newsletter Signup
Staff Bios
Make A Contribution
Contact Us
Fast Food Nation: Do You Want Lies with That? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Wednesday, 01 November 2006
AFF Sentinel Vol.3 #30
Think "Meatrix" for Fast Food & Packers with Actors
Our last Sentinel highlighted the garbage the public could see in the film Fast Food Nation. The film is Hollywood fiction meant to advance radical activist goals. Commenting on the film in person, screenwriter Eric Schlosser masquerades as a truth squad, in concert with his film's backers and their Web sites. They are not.

The film was shot under cover, using the codename Coyote, so the movie's true nature wouldn't get out, until a journalist blew their cover. "Coyote" refers to illegal immigrant smugglers.

Supposedly set in a huge packing plant, it was obvious to me it wasn't - something most moviegoers won't know. Schlosser explained plant scenes were filmed in a few hours in a small Mexican plant - a plant upset about the treatment of illegal immigrants in the U.S.

Schlosser said today's American meat packing industry is really all about "immigrants being exploited." Yet any American industry must check documents at hiring, always struggling to determine document authenticity, without violating civil rights. Contrary to Schlosser's na?ve views of worker disposability, worker safety, line efficiency and product quality depend on a stable, trained workforce - not a constantly shifting influx of illegals. The 500,000 real-life, hardworking members of this workforce and their families stand to be harmed by this movie.

Schlosser described the Mexican plant as "cleaner and more modern and operating at a better work pace" than U.S. plants. False. The film's plant was not cleaner and not more modern. It was more like a local locker plant - clean, with serviceable but hardly cutting edge technology and equipment. The newer pathogen-reduction interventions modern U.S. plants use were not in evidence.

As for pace, Schlosser said the plant slaughtered 175 head per day instead of the real-life, Colorado plant he is targeting at 350 head/hour. He didn't mention that the Colorado plant's equipment, plant design and workforce far exceeded the film's Mexican plant. Ironically, the real-life plant the film portrays as worker abusive is strongly unionized, an even less likely place for human rights and workplace violations.

Schlosser repeated his claim that meatpacking is the most dangerous job in America. In past Sentinels, we've noted published reviews showing meatpacking is not even in the top ten.

We dug into U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. Tables that included any reportable injury requiring not only days off but days working at another job or with job restrictions plus illnesses (reflecting working environment) revealed at least ten major industry classifications with a higher rate than animal slaughtering and processing. Separate out meat processing, and there are over 110 job categories with a higher injury and illness rate. The slaughter floor - more dangerous and strenuous - isn't in the top 15. Ironically, knife manufacturing is ranked higher than meat cutting.

Schlosser also claims current injury rates are down partially because government forms changed in 2003. The BLS did revise their entire system after 2002 - many categories changed. We noted 11 of 15 randomly chosen, higher risk categories notched a lower rate in 2003, not just meatpacking and processing.

Schlosser claimed the rate had dropped 60 percent since 2003 because packers were under- reporting injuries. But the real figures show the rate dropped 11.8 percent from 2003 to 2005, negating Schlosser's drastic underreporting charge.

How did a movie with so little entertainment value get made? It is a Participant Productions film, an activist company with the mission to "make the world a better place." It was behind Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," as well as other activist films and a Sesame Street film. Former e-Bay founder Jeff Skoll started and financed Participant.

Check out the Web site pushed in the film credits, Furthering the movie's message that citizens must take action, it proclaims their real issues: immigration, animal welfare, health, sexual harassment and worker safety. The Web site banner for Fast Food Nation, includes a question, "Would you like lies with that?" If the movie isn't inaccurate enough, clicking on those Web site subjects like "animal welfare," "health" and "worker safety" will live up to their "lies" slogan. The pages contain nasty activist falsehoods and distortions.

Schlosser said the "only hope was to educate kids about where their food comes from. Kids today know nothing about agriculture." There's truth there - but his dark, distorted, false and anti-free market movie is the last place to go for facts.

If you would like additional info on meat processing from a multi-sector, multi-organization viewpoint, go to

For PDF's of the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Injury and Illness tables, click on these links: 2005 2003 2002
Last Updated ( Friday, 15 December 2006 )
< Previous
designed by