After an exclusive story looking at how a string of food processing facilities in North America has been destroyed, the Western Standard has found dozens more incidents around the globe.

Food shortages are a growing concern globally and have been exacerbated by a string of fires, plane crashes and explosions at nearly two-dozen food processing facilities across Canada and the US.

And beyond North American food processing plants, there have been dozens more food processing facilities destroyed in fires and explosions in the last two years.

Crews are battling a large fire at Riverway Foods on Tuesday, a sausage factory in the UK, 70 firefighters from across Essex and Hertfordshire are on scene, as reported by the BBC.


Riverway Foods fire in Harlow, UK – Photo courtesy BBC – Dorottya Spanyik

On Monday, 43,000 chickens died in a massive fire that destroyed four chicken houses on a farm in the Dutch town of Heusden, according to World Today News.

In March, a fire at a poultry farm in India killed 3,500 chickens. According to PiPa News, the fire destroyed the entire farm.

Another poultry farm in India was also hit by fire in March killing 8,500 chicks. Times of Indiareported the fire may have been caused by a short circuit.

In January, a fire at a poultry farm in Kerala, India killed more than 2,500 chickens, according to The Print.

In December 2021, 8,000 chickens were killed in a poultry farm blaze in Sri Lanka. News Firstreported the fire was likely sparked by an “electrical leak.”

A massive blaze at a Northern Ireland farm killed hundreds of pigs in November 2021, as reported by News Letter. No one was injured.


Fire destroys pig farm in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland (photo courtesy News Letter)

In October 2021, a large fire at a Fermanagh poultry farm in Northern Ireland killed 16,000 birds. It took firefighters more than seven hours to get control of the fire, as reported by That’sFarming.

A large fire broke out in September 2021 at a Chilean food processing plant. Although no injuries were reported, several crews were needed to battle the blaze, as reported by La Tercera.

In July 2021, a deadly fire at a Bangladesh food processing factory kills at least 52 people, as reported by Aljazeera.

Another fire at a poultry house in East Yorkshire, England in July 2021 killed 50,000 chickens. The fire was said to be caused by accidental ignition, as reported by the Daily Mail.

In April 2021, over 55,000 pigs were killed after a fire broke out at a German pig farm. USA Today reported the cause of the blaze was unclear.

A fire in December 2020 killed as many as 240,000 chickens at the Cal-Maine Foods farm in Florida. The Hillreported two huge barns were lost in the blaze.

October 2020, a fire destroys Rainbow Fresh, a South Australian vegetable business. The blaze destroyed an estimated $2.5 million of sheds and equipment, according to ABC News.

Fire crews battled a blaze at the Banham Poultry factory in October 2020, as reported by Eastern Daily Press.

Another fire at a Northern Ireland egg factory was reported in October 2020, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Nearly 6,000 chickens were killed in Co Tyrone farm fire, in September 2020 also in Northern Ireland. The cause of the fire was considered an accident, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

Another fire in September 2020 destroyed Glenmarshal Pedigree Pig’s farrowing house (maternity ward) on a farm in Northern Ireland killing roughly 2,000 pigs, according to the BBC.


Fire at pig farm in Kilkeel, Ireland (photo courtesy BBC)

A fire destroys Kent Foods warehouse in England late August 2020. Known as one of Europe’s largest independent suppliers of sugar, sweeteners, dairy products, oils and fats to the food manufacturing industry, as reported by Dairy Reporter.

Another fire in August 2020 gutted an iconic bread factory in northern Sweden. At the time, the facility baked nearly 41,000 tonnes of bread each year, as reported by The LocalSE.

Also in August 2020, a massive blast at the harbour in Beirut, Lebanon, destroyed 85% of the city’s grain silos, as reported by Fox News.

A massive explosion at Tilbury Port in Essex, England partially destroyed the roof of a grain store in July 2020. The BBCreported the blast was caused by a dust explosion.

In May of 2020, the Kekén pork processing plant in Tixpéual, Mexico caught fire, as reported by Yucatan Magazine. No injuries were reported.

About 34,000 chickens were lost in two poultry farm fires within 24 hours of each other in January 2020. One fire happened in North Carolina, the other in Virginia, as reported by Watt Poultry.

Although these incidents seem to be on the rise, fires in the food industry are not uncommon.

A fire prevention company out of the UK said in a 2017 news article, fires in the food industry are a trend.

A&F Sprinklers Ltd. pointed to several facilities being destroyed by fire spanning more than a decade across Europe, including facilities in Germany, Spain, Belgium, each lacking automatic fire sprinklers, said the sprinkler supplier.

It also pointed to sandwich panels typically found in the construction of food processing facilities constructed of plastics with inferior fire resistance that burn black smoke, making firefighting hazardous.

The news article said 88 fires were reported in food factories between 2010 and 2014.

A report from Dust Safety Science, a company recording combustible dust incidents since 2016, said in 2020, food products made up nearly half (48%) of the combustible dust fires and explosions recorder.

An article on Graphic Products — a global provider of industrial supplies designed to “improve safety” on worksites — said the food processing and manufacturing industry is full of hazards, from the machinery to chemicals used.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard

Reporter (Alberta)

Melanie Risdon is an Alberta Reporter for the Western Standard and Alberta Report based in the Calgary Headquarters. She has over 20 years’ experience in media at Global News, Rogers and Corus.

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(1) comment

Mars Hill

There's no phenomena in war, it's calculated and probably done by a supercomputer.

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