Lewis W. Diuguid

Poultry plant fire in China watched in U.S.

Updated: 2013-06-05T00:31:55Z

By Lewis W. Diuguid

The Kansas City Star

People in Kansas City have to be casting a cautious eye toward China and the fire that raced through a poultry plant Monday in northeastern China, killing at least 119 people.

Kansas Citians would be particularly concerned after the recent announcement that China’s biggest pork producer, Shuanghui International plans to buy Smithfield in the United States, which includes Farmland Foods in Kansas City. The pork industry already has a bad rap for factory farms and other problems.

The fire in China, where workers were trapped inside the cluttered slaughterhouse, raises issues of worker safety, which will have to be addressed in Shuanghui International’s intended purchase of the U.S. food giant, although Shuanghui International is unrelated to the poultry plant. If the deal goes through, it would be China’s largest takeover of an American company, The Associated Press reports.

Workers said the fire at the poultry plant started during a shift change and may have originated in a locker room at a time when about 350 workers were at the plant outside the city of Dehui. The plant is owned by Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co.

To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

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