Two deaths at pet food ingredient rendering facility

One co-worker speculated that the two may have died from hydrogen sulfide gas exposure.

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(Andrea Gantz)
(Andrea Gantz)

On September 12, two workers died at the Valley Proteins rendering facility in Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA, reported regional NBC-affiliate WRAL. The plant makes ingredients for pet food from meat and bone co-products. Police continue investigating the causes of death. The deceased workers were found face down in a pit of the co-product plant. One co-worker speculated that the two may have died from hydrogen sulfide gas exposure.

Hydrogen sulfide gas has the characteristic stench of rotten eggs. While this smell can warn one to its presence, the gas also suppresses the sense of smell following exposure. Unnoticed, the gas can then build up to toxic and fatal levels, poisoning a range of body systems.

The deceased’s co-worker stated that employees are given monitors that beep when exposed to the gas. The deceased were found by passing co-workers after not responding to a radio check.

Previous reporting on pet food facility safety

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Pet food safety is a key topic among pet food suppliers and manufacturers, for obvious reasons. But food safety isn’t just about individual ingredients or the end products themselves; it’s also (perhaps especially) about the environment that surrounds said ingredients or products.

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the ways everyone does business, and one topic of primary concern has been safety. Employee safety in particular became top-of-mind as essential industries like pet food manufacturing continued in the midst of a spreading virus, including everything from personal protective equipment (PPE) to the facilities those employees work in.

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