Slim Jim Factory Explodes, Kills Three, Requires HazMat Team

A ConAgra plant near Raleigh, N.C., that makes and packages Slim Jim beef jerky was rocked by a huge explosion on Tuesday, killing three employees and sending dozens of workers and three firefighters to hospital with severe burns or “exposure to toxic fumes.”

ConAgra spokespeople have been quick to offer funding for workers affected by the plant collapse, but not quite quick enough to explain why the heck they need 34,000 gallons of ammonia to make a spicy meat stick in the first place. [Ammonia is used to refrigerate the meat. -Ed.] The blast occurred in the packaging area of the plant.

Update: Chris here. I approved the photo selection for this post, and I do apologize for offending anyone. I did not think the original pic provided much editorial commentary one way or the other on the story, as it was really just a recreation of the imagery used in their marketing, so I said “publish!” I’ve read the comments, however, and I see that it touched a nerve for a lot of readers.

Keep the rest of the comments related to the story from here on, please, and direct any further complaints about the tone or appropriateness of the post to me, or to Ben or Meg. (The best way to bring editorial complaints to our attention is to email a politely worded alert to us directly, as we aren’t always monitoring comments on every post.)

-Chris

“Recovery over, investigation begins” [WRAL]

Comments

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  1. Jim Topoleski says:

    god slim jims are terrible. Remember when they tried to market it as “beef jerky” yet its basically a sausage and NOTHING like beef jerky.

    If you want a great tasting smoked sausage with a bite like Slim Jims, look for the polish sausage called Kabanosi

  2. menty666 says:

    Mmmm…Slim Jim. Once every 6 years or so I’ll have one. It takes that long to get the taste out of your mouth.

    • P_Smith says:

      @menty666: Slim Jim’s slogan: “We invented mystery meat!”

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @menty666: oh, that horrendous waxy feel…
      i like the taste of slim-jims but don’t like the casing, which feels like paper…

      And thanks consumerist, i heard about the explosion on the radio the other day, but never followed up.

  3. PunditGuy says:

    So… how about an Air France disaster story on Consumerist with a wacky picture of someone waiting in line for a flight? Or even better, a Holocaust museum piece with fun-loving security guards?

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @PunditGuy: um why would we care about that? This is consumerist related (factory that makes a food product blows up) Those are not.

      • Dirk says:

        @Jim Topoleski: You’re missing PunditGuy’s point. I think what he’s trying to say is that its in poor taste to show a wacky photo when we’re talking about an accident that killed people.

        • Jim Topoleski says:

          @Dirk: Of the product we are talking about…

          I mean seriously this is slim jim, they dont put out non-wacky photos of that junk.

          • atarisuicide says:

            @Jim Topoleski:

            Stop being obtuse, they could have used a picture of a ConAgra logo or something. This article is the kind of crap that Consumerist would be very quick to jump on a corporation about. I’m disheartened in this site’s lack of editorial oversight on this story.

            • Anonymously says:

              @atarisuicide: I agree, this is completely distasteful.

            • mahpartysocks says:

              @atarisuicide: Agreed. Yes, Slim Jims are inherently funny. But, um…death isn’t. Totally disrespectful post.

              • godospoons says:

                @mahpartysocks: Agreed. The question now… why haven’t they removed the photo already?

                • pz says:

                  @PunditGuy: Please — if their life was working in a slim jim factory, they’re in a better place now. Free from suffering, hardship, and most importantly, slim jims.

                  Honestly, no joke, they were probably sick and tired of seeing slim jims.

                  • atarisuicide says:

                    @mdmadph:

                    You know what, fuck you. I would just love to know about the awesome, society-improving career to which you have dedicated your piece-of-shit life. Honestly, no joke.

                    • pz says:

                      @atarisuicide: Lighten up, Francis.

                      I wasn’t joking: they are in a better place, and they more than likely were tired of seeing slim jims. I’ve worked in food processing before — after a while, whatever product you’re making gets entered into your “will never eat again” list, no matter what it is.

                      Unbunch your panties and have a nice day!

                    • Gramin says:

                      @mdmadph:

                      You have got to be fucking joking! “They are in a better place.” Are you serious? If I’m 98 years old and knocking on death’s door, then yes, heaven is a better place. But what if I’m 45 with a loving wife and three children at home? There’s no place better than that! You are a fucking jackass. Have some sense of decency before you open your ignorant mouth again.

                    • nakedscience says:

                      @Gramin: Joke. It was a joke. Calm down. Take a deap breath. Get some coffee.

                    • Trai_Dep says:

                      @Gramin: But what if he’s got a wife that hates him and children that snicker behind his back? What THEN, smarty-pants, huh?!

                  • atarisuicide says:

                    @mdmadph:

                    Oh, you are a apparently a 39 year old Domino web designer that spends his time making jokes about dead people on Consumerist. Nice to see that you have done so well with your life.

                    • SarcasticDwarf says:

                      @pecan 3.14159265: I hate to tell you, but people have died doing just about anything at any point on the earth. There have been deaths in some way associated with damn near every product ever created. People, hundreds of them are dying EVERY SECOND around the world. At a certain point we have to take a more lighthearted approach to death in order to maintain our sanity.

                    • Gramin says:

                      @atarisuicide:

                      Wow. At first I thought you were an ass atari; but now I agree with you. I read your posts in the wrong order so I didn’t know who or what you were responding to. And you’re right. I enjoy humor but not when talking about something that killed three innocent people and affected the lives of their family and friends. This story should be taken down immediately and a note from the editor posted appologizing for Consumerist’s stupidity and poor judgement.

                    • Coles_Law says:

                      @Gramin: Not necessarily taken down, but a more respectful photo is in order.

                  • c_c says:

                    @mdmadph:
                    Dude, don’t be a dick. Not everyone can have a super awesome web designer job and make cynical comments on blogs all day.

                    If you think that lowly of people working in factories, why don’t you stop buying pretty much everything that you use on a daily basis and make it yourself? Let me know how that works out for you.

                  • Illiterati says:

                    @mdmadph: You’re an elitist jerk. Nuff said.

                • Spinfusor says:

                  @godospoons: Because the Consumerist staff isn’t overly sensitive like you.

                  They have a sense of humor.

                  • labeled says:

                    @Spinfusor: I’m glad to see that the picture was changed on the front page, if not on this one. I realize slim jims are inherently funny, but “factory explosion: grim hilarity ensues!” is a stretch.

            • Skankingmike says:

              @atarisuicide: you’re right a better photo would be a mash up of slim-jim’s and an hazmat suit.

              [www.dotsloft.co.uk] + [www.swobo.com]
              or that

            • Trai_Dep says:

              @atarisuicide: “I’m disheartened in this site’s lack of editorial oversight on this story.”
              I’m very disheartened by your Atarisuicide avatar. How can you make light of suicide? Have you no soul? Why do you insult the millions of poor, broken souls who’ve fallen victim to suicide? What kind of awful person are you? How can you encourage people to take their own lives? Over a video game?!
              …And don’t even get me started about your Gamerz hateraide.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @PunditGuy: To those offended, this sounds like an excellent opportunity for you to register your dissatisfaction by leaving.
      Failing that, by never, ever commenting again.
      Then we ALL win!

  4. Kingsley90210 says:

    I drive by that factory every day and I had no idea what was in there. I kind of like slim jims.

  5. John Henschen says:

    Have you ever thrown a Slim Jim into a campfire? They burn like a mother. I’ve also noticed that if you cook spam on a grill, there’s a point at which it catches on fire and burns for a very, very long time.

  6. pop top says:

    Is Randy Savage OK?

  7. atarisuicide says:

    This was written kind of light-heartedly for an incident that killed 3 people and injured dozens of others, don’t you think?

  8. Anonymous says:

    This happened about 2-3 miles from my house. I was sadly disappointed to come home and not find my house comically covered in Slim Jims.

    I was also saddened by the two deaths, and I have hopes for those that are currently still critical. Fortunately they’re at one of the best hospitals in the country right now.

  9. Weirdsmobile says:

    Three people killed? Dozens sent to hospital with severe burns and exposure to toxic fumes? HILARIOUS!!! Stay classy, Consumerist.

    • atarisuicide says:

      @Weirdsmobile:

      Seriously, I would really like an explanation from Lucy or someone else affiliated with the site as to why they think this article was OK. This is terribly distasteful.

      • mac-phisto says:

        @atarisuicide: i think you’ve made your point. would you like to make it again a dozen more times?

        • atarisuicide says:

          @mac-phisto:

          My apologies, I have a friend that was injured in the explosion. Sorry for the outrage.

          • HogwartsAlum says:

            @atarisuicide:

            Yikes. I hope your friend will be okay.

          • mac-phisto says:

            @atarisuicide: here’s hoping s/he’s ok. i understand where you’re coming from & i sympathize; some of us have a morose sense of humor.

          • Trai_Dep says:

            @atarisuicide: Condolences.
            So, I guess we should make the UN outlaw all attempts at humor across the globe because someone, somewhere might know those impacted?
            Or maybe make all such attempt to make people smile across the planet have to be vetted by the Disney Corporation to make sure it’s family-friendly and homogenized enough?

            • MustyBuckets says:

              @Trai_Dep: Not that I don’t agree with what you are saying, but I find it better at times to stop poking the dog when it’s done being angry.

              @atarisuicide: I am truly sorry, and I know we disagree on some things related to the article, but I hope for the best for everyone involved in the accident.

            • K-Bo says:

              @Trai_Dep: funny because having disney books in a daycare in NC can cause you to loose your 5 star rating. Why? Because they are too violent.

            • floraposte says:

              @Trai_Dep: Wow, that’s not even a straw man, it’s an entire straw joke policy.

              Nobody’s saying it should be illegal to make jokes about tragedies, or about gender, or race, or sexual orientation, or political figures, or whatever. But people also get to say when they think such jokes are inappropriate, or dehumanizing, or scummy, or whatever. Since there’s no ultimate humor standard, it’s kind of up to the humor user to decide whether the funny/being-a-f@#king-person balance is set okay for them and to deal with the fact that some balance it differently.

              To me this wasn’t in keeping with the Consumerist’s usual balance decision, and I liked the previous one better.

              • Trai_Dep says:

                @floraposte: OK. Opinions can differ and I respect what you’re saying.
                But as someone who attempts humor on occasion, it’s a fine line between funny, snarky, black humor and poor taste. A line that’s drawn afresh every time a new person reads your attempt.
                Some will find it over the line, while others – dealing with DEATH, quite the bummer, really – will find some relief and solace in the exact same item. While others will find it rip-roaring hilarious and require you file restraining orders to keep them at a comfortable distance.
                Humor’s hard, that’s why it should be nurtured. Whatever jokes are made, no matter how brilliant, will offend someone, somewhere. And jokes about taboo (taboo to whom?) subjects are often the ones that comfort thru laughter the most, precisely because they’re risqu√©.
                It’d be one thing if Consumerist was one of those places where they were hateful and insulting about everything: 4Chan, say. But they’re not. And given that there’s a mix of pro/con responses, it’s hard to objectively say they were over the line.
                Honestly, sometimes humor bruises. It has to. That’s no reason to stop trying.
                Again, I totally respect what you’re saying, but I see it as the cost of all the times that Consumerist has brought a smile to your face. I’d rather see the rare joke that some think is over the line than have one of my favorite sites lose its edgy, snarky humor. That’d be a loss for the internet.
                But hat’s off – I see what you’re saying, and it was well said.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    now THAT’S some explosive flavor. OOOOOH YEAAAAH!

  11. Anathema777 says:

    The article this post links to begins: “Authorities on Wednesday afternoon removed two more bodies from the rubble of a Garner food plant following a Tuesday explosion.”

    What about that made people think that the right response was a lighthearted post making fun of ConAgra spokespeople and the name of a street?

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      @Anathema777: It’s Consumerist, that’s how they roll.

      See, it’s a Slim Jims plant that exploded. Slim Jims.

      You’re supposed to laugh smugly about the implication that there’s something so horrible and toxic about the manufacturing process that when it goes awry there’s an explosion and deaths and mention how you would never in a million years eat something so proletarian and banal and that the workers who were killed or injured somehow deserved it for working there in the first place.

      • Real Cheese Flavor says:

        @Real Cheese Flavor: Sorry, that was poorly worded.

        The general tone of the story along with some of these people’s comments really struck a nerve with me for some reason.

        • MustyBuckets says:

          @Real Cheese Flavor: I know the feeling, but I’m doing a pretty crappy job explaining how this isn’t poking fun at dead people. It’s not that I feel that it might be, but it is the fact I can’t get my thoughts out correctly.

        • Anathema777 says:

          @Real Cheese Flavor: I get what you’re saying and I totally agree. I thought the story was distasteful, but some of the comments were awful! Like insinuating that death is a step up because, gee whiz, the only thing they were doing with their life was working in a Slim Jim factory…just. Argh.

        • henwy says:

          @Real Cheese Flavor:

          Sum it up as some people are jerks.

  12. jasonhackwith says:

    I agree on the utter tastelessness of this article. And I’m not talking about the Slim Jims.

  13. MustyBuckets says:

    I don’t know why everyone has jumped on the ‘too light hearted’ bandwagon. First of all, most consumerist stories are written like this. On the Daily Show, if/when this will be mentioned, it won’t be a somber affair either – and no one will complain.

    On top of your complaints, read the damn article without looking at the picture and there is no humor in it. It’s just a funny picture, and I for one would prefer a funny picture over a logo, in fact the only picture that would be better is that of the factory in current condition.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @MustyBuckets: Yeah, but this was a tragedy, and people died. Do you really want to mock that when people have lost family members?

      It’s the lighthearted, silly tone of the article in the context of a tragedy that has killed three people. Photo aside, the tone of the article is lighthearted, and extremely inappropriate considering the context.

      • MustyBuckets says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Please show me where the article is light hearted – aside from the word Jimmified (which is one of the better ways to explain how meat is made into slim jims).

        @Anathema777: Yes, but at least one has a ‘punchline’ and there is one that may or may not – after that, two articles are mainly quotes, and two are serious. This article is serious with a funny picture.
        Also, look closely now, this isn’t marked with the tragedy tag. I’m not saying this isn’t, but I am saying that this is one of probably many articles that aren’t.

        @Charlotte Rae’s Web: I still fail to see where the ‘tone’ is wrong in the article. Yes, as mentioned above Jimmified is a strange funny new word, but it refers to the making of the snack, not how these people died. The picture doesn’t make fun of burn victims, people with severed hands, or the dead. It’s a man in a cape biting a slim jim.

        @floraposte: This has nothing to do with the Holocaust Museum. Aside from that, yes, people do complain to the FCC. I shouldn’t have compared this to a comedy routine there, as the article is not funny.

        • Anathema777 says:

          @MustyBuckets: Yeah. The one with the punchline also got reamed in the comments. And I noticed that this doesn’t have the tragedy tag — so waht? It was a tragedy and it should be treated as such. Instead the tag is “Sausage factories on roads named sausage.” Hilarious.

          • MustyBuckets says:

            @Anathema777: Once again, it’s not that this isn’t a tragedy, but all the other tragedies that don’t have the tag, thus making it unfair to compare this to ones that do have that tag.

            • Anonymously says:

              @MustyBuckets: Since we’re being overly pedantic, here’s my take on it:

              The biggest offender is THE PICTURE. Just because the Slim Jim brand is silly does not mean a silly picture is appropriate for a somber topic unrelated to the brand itself.

              On to the wording, (bolding is mine):

              ConAgra spokespeople have been quick to offer funding for workers affected by the plant collapse, but not quite quick enough to explain why the heck they need 34,000 gallons of ammonia to make a spicy meat stick in the first place.

              (Your Consumerist sausage experts can tell you that ammonia is used to refrigerate the meat before it’s Jimmified.)

              The factory, by the way, was located on Jones Sausage Road.

              The language, “why the heck” just seems out of place, as does blaming the company without any real idea of how food processing works. The rest of the article focuses solely on the product and not on the incident. The reference to the road name, while presented purely as fact, becomes a joke when coupled with the tag “sausage-plants-on-roads-named-sausage”.

              If you want to really get into details, 58 words are devoted to the accident itself, 20 words are used to blame the company, and 35 words plus the picture are dedicated to making fun of Slim Jim. IMO, the (approximate) 1:1 ratio of fact to fluff also contributes to the lighthearted feeling of the article.

              • MustyBuckets says:

                @Greg []: Thank you for the actual response to my question. I’ll concede that the article isn’t written in the same matter as we could see on CNN, ‘why the heck’ isn’t all folksy or lighthearted, it’s just a substitute for why the hell, which would have been 100% not lighthearted.

                Spicy Meat Stick might be called ‘lighthearted’, I could see that, but it is also fact that it is how the company refers to their own product (check out the amazon listing here, you can see it being called meat stick, and spicy meat snack) [www.amazon.com]

                “Consumerist Sausage Experts” – Easier way of saying – We contacted people about this, and they have told us that… But, once again, unless they contacted actual Sausage Experts, I’ll give it to you that that could be considered ‘lighthearted’, but no more so than many other articles on the site.

                “Jimmified” – Yep, lighthearted, but only used to describe the process of the snack, not the accident, or the people harmed.

                “Jones Sausage Road” – telling where it is located is just fact, but I agree that the tag can be considered light hearted.

                Also, to everyone who didn’t like the picture, the new one, a picture of a box of slim jims, has an explosion right behind the logo. I find this much more humorous than the previous picture, and it is the current logo, so everyone is happy…?

            • Anathema777 says:

              @MustyBuckets: It’s not unfair to compare Consumerist stories to other Consumerist stories.

              • MustyBuckets says:

                @Anathema777: Yes, but it is to unfairly narrow the selection to only articles that suit your agenda. This isn’t labeled with the tragedy tag.

                Compare to any of the given tags with other stories on them, and you’ll see a history of consumerist articles with humor.

                Explosion – 1 funny, one serious
                Fire – Too many to count, obviously more funny than serious.
                And so on…

                • Anathema777 says:

                  @MustyBuckets: This is ridiculous.

                  I think the way this story was portrayed was distasteful. You said that many other stories were also written in a humorous manner so I pointed out that the Consumerist does have more serious stories. That’s all.

                  The fact that the Consumerist has had other distasteful stories in the past, does nothing to change my mind that this story was portrayed badly.

                  • MustyBuckets says:

                    @Anathema777: I’m sorry that I was confused as to what you meant in the first place by “Check out some past Consumerist stories under this tag”. I am also sorry if you took anything that I said to mean that I didn’t believe that the Consumerist did more serious articles.

                    That leaves us having differing ideas on the tastefulness of the article. Nothing we can really do about that.

        • floraposte says:

          @MustyBuckets: Yes, it does have something to do with the Holocaust Museum, because that was the site of the other prominent workplace death on the same day, and there are jokes in the ether about both tragedies. And notably, The Daily Show didn’t do jokes about either of them.

          I don’t have any problem with the story, but I think the picture’s ill-chosen for a tragedy that killed people no matter where it took place, and I’m glad they seem to be changing it.

      • henwy says:

        @pecan 3.14159265:

        What it really comes down to is that they never would have taken this sort of tone with the, just as an example, Air France crash. That was also a consumer issue considering there’s a planeload of dead consumers floating in the atlantic ocean somewhere likely due to a screwup with the plane. I’m certain the consumerist wouldn’t have made stupid jokes like say, ending with something about at least those frenchies got a bath ha ha ha. Ending with slim jims and ammonia probably just felt like a safe bet.

    • Anathema777 says:

      @MustyBuckets: Check out some past Consumerist stories under this tage: [consumerist.com]

      So many of these stories are well written and they don’t go out of their way to make lighthearted jokes. Also check out the pictures. They actually fit the depth of the story.

    • floraposte says:

      @MustyBuckets: I’m betting the Daily Show didn’t joke about this or the Holocaust Museum shooting last night, because in fact, they actually don’t tend to do their topical humor about tragic deaths of blameless people. And I don’t know why you’d say there wouldn’t be any complaints–they send them to the Daily Show or the FCC, they don’t post ‘em here, so the fact that that you didn’t see any doesn’t really mean much.

    • Charlotte Rae's Web says:

      @MustyBuckets: The photo is wrong, the tone is wrong. People DIED.

      Hey maybe they could have used the photos from the reunion point where people were waiting to see if their loved ones made it out ALIVE. Or maybe the HYSTERICAL line about the guy who was burnt horribly and had his severed hand lying on top of him on a gurney. The whole thing is just full of HUMOROUS antics to mention.

    • c_c says:

      @MustyBuckets:
      Anathema777 is right on, compared to other Consumerist post involving death/tradgedies, this one is pretty disrespectful.

      For example, I don’t see any joke and funny picture in this story, which involved one person dying in the course of performing their job:
      [consumerist.com]

      • MustyBuckets says:

        @cc82: Where is the joke in this one? Jimmified is not a punch line, it’s just much shorter to write and easier to explain than going step by step through the process, and it’s less bland that saying the ambiguous ‘processed’ or made into slim jims. Jimmified is a word that isn’t making fun of the people who died, or the others that have been injured. It’s a word that, at worst, is making fun of the process to make meat into slim jims.

        • c_c says:

          @MustyBuckets:
          Parts that seem the writer meant to be humorous
          – The picture
          – Pointing out the name of the road, the reason for doing so obviously for the humor of the name Jones Sausage Road
          – The tag: “Sausage plants on roads named sausage”

          I don’t see any things like that in other Consumerist stories covering deaths. Just sayin’…

  14. bohemian says:

    The sub story here is how dangerous large scale food manufacturing is. There have been toxic ammonia leaks at two nearby meat processing plants recently. Tons of people in both cases ended up sent to the hospital. Nothing is ever mentioned about the meat in the plant when they have these ammonia gas leaks. I don’t know if meat is then toxic after being exposed to what sent workers to the hospital.

    • Anathema777 says:

      @bohemian: Now that sounds like an important post for the consumerist.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Anathema777: Personally, I would have written about the tragedy in a much more serious light, and then extrapolated on the dangers of factory work and potential lack of oversight by highlighting the other factory leaks that has contributed to hazards in the workplace.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @bohemian: Yeah, but then if they covered it that way, you know these same blowhards would be complaining about politicizing a family tragedy for ideological points.
      You can’t win with stick-in-the-mud people. You can only ignore them. Or, being this is the internet, tease them relentlessly.

      (and yeah of COURSE I have sympathy for the workers, but this isn’t the place to register it – PBS.org or economist.com have that slice covered quite adequately, thanks)

      • floraposte says:

        @Trai_Dep: The hell? Consumerist runs articles on tragedies all the time, without much consternation that they’re politicizing something. Nobody’s saying that they have to border the posts in black and post pictures of their heads bowed in prayer, we just think wacky is out of place in a death report. I get you’re more a “nothing sacred” person so you disagree; fine. But you’re soaring off into flights of invention about the opposing POV here in a way that’s going to earn you a tin hat. Beanie shape. With a propeller.

  15. Daniel Parmelee says:

    looks like someone snapped into a slim jim

    [4.bp.blogspot.com]

  16. Xanaxian says:

    @PunditGuy: You’re right. It’s never funny when someone meats their maker.

  17. jesuismoi says:

    ConAgra has responded by paying for funerals, setting up trust funds, and keeping people’s pay checks coming, even though the factory is closed(see WRAL linked article).

    This is the kind of corporate, “yes, we have a soul” that Consumerist usually lauds companies for.

    Yes, locals were confused as to why so much ammonia was needed — but that doesn’t mean the continuing search and rescue effort (there’s some cars trapped under beams and they don’t know if there are bodies in them) should be treated so lightly.

    Unlike posters above, I don’t think the Daily Show would make fun of this kind of devastation, either. It’s an industrial accident, like any other, just b/c the product is unusual doesn’t make it any less tragic.

    • Charlotte Rae's Web says:

      @jesuismoi: After reading consumerist so much and being local to this, I watched carefully to see how COnAgra would respond and by all accounts, they have really done things the right way.

  18. Jesse says:

    Conagra probably had all that ammonia for refrigeration. Ammonia is used quite often as the refrigerant in industrial cooling systems.

    • Distahs says:

      @Jesse: Correct at the Twin falls pant I personally know a few refrigeration employees and it’s used to cool product and the plants rooms.

  19. ZManGT says:

    I agree this article is in bad taste. If a corporation released an article like this Consumerist would blast them, but somehow it’s OK for them to do it.

    Some above posters have mentioned problems about factory leaks etc. If they used a different picture and an tied the explosion into other factory problems they would have a basis of a story. Right now this is just garbage and I’m appalled about this.

  20. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    BAD JUDGMENT.

    I won’t be donating to consumerist.com again if I see stuff like this. I live outside of Raleigh and watched the local news as this was ongoing, in HORROR as they showed the walls blown out, fire, evacuations, etc.

    If the factory made something you thought was higher end, would this even be here?

    Everyone has made better points than I but as an area resident and donor to this site, I’m really disgusted with you today.

  21. Distahs says:

    I work for ConAgra Foods Lamb-Weston here in Twin Falls Idaho and every body is now paranoid because the likely cause was a Boiler exploding… The plant here dates back to 1932 so there are a few things that are Really dated.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @Distahs: Please tell me the boiler isn’t an original fixture!

      • Distahs says:

        @Coles_Law: As unreliable as it is I would guess so but, I’m not sure…

        One of the next projects is to burn the methane gas that is generated by waste treatment to heat the boiler. right now the just burn it off as a torch.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        @Coles_Law: Lots of manufacturing facilities have really old equipment in them, especially if they have been producing the item for a long time. I worked for a place that did work for steel mills, some of the drawings for parts were from the 1930s.

  22. c_c says:

    I live in NC, and this has been on the local news a lot, and is really quite sad; three people lost their lives doing their everyday job, and everyone elses job there is in jeopardy because they’re not sure if it will be worth it to rebuild the plant.

    That being said, I think the tone of this article is a little too cheeky for a tragedy like this. It’s easy to trash and make fun of big corporations, but remember the people on the ground actually making the products for these companies are just average Americans trying to make a living.

  23. c_c says:

    “The factory, by the way, was located on Jones Sausage Road.”

    [www.gribblenation.com]

    • econobiker says:

      @cc82: Alot of companies name the access road after the company, its products, or it owners.

      There are Service Merchandise Blvd in Brentwood TN even though the original Service Merch died in 2002 and its HQ is long changed to an office park.

      In Front Royal VA (i think) there is a Bearing Road after the happless and short lived Bearing Truck Company ( independent truck import/assembly co. killed by a Damiler/Chrysler-Freightliner deal with the foreign truck mfg.)

      Around where I live there is a Tyson Road for a Tyson Co.chicken processing plant. This probably had been changed from Oscar Meyer Road which was the original builder/owner to the plant in the 1970s.

      Etc, you get the idea
      Etc

  24. BenderRodriguez says:

    I agree, that picture is in the worst possible taste. There is never, ever, ever anything funny about death.

    I wonder what Con Agra will do with the corpses? Super Giant Slim-Jims??

  25. JulesNoctambule says:

    We didn’t hear the explosion at our house, but we did hear the emergency vehicles heading to the scene. I find it curious that ConAgra is showing so much support given their usual reputation. The people who were injured/killed and their families have my sympathies, and I hope that they receive much if it’s found that the company was negligent in any way.

    Still, I can’t muster any offense over the picture accompanying this article or the mention of the amusing street name; there are better things to worry about now in my community. Though for anyone wondering, the Jones Sausage Road thing is completely true — I’ve driven down it more than once and always thought it funny that particular business was located there.

  26. eb0nyknight says:

    I’m confused, can someone point out exactly where the Consumerist makes light of the incident????

    I see nothing in the article but stating the facts. I don’t see any witty one-liners or old Mr. Orangeface names.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @eb0nyknight: We used a photo of a consumer wearing a cape, in a store, biting into a SlimJim. We also used the word “Jimmified” in a final sentence to sum up the process of making Slim Jims.

      The photo seemed too lighthearted to some readers, including some who knew people in the factory explosion, which is why we’ve removed it.

      • BenderRodriguez says:

        @Chris Walters:
        Mentioning that the factory was located on “Jones Sausage Road” as in “I sure am jonesin’ for some sausage,” could be seen as insensitive, not to mention irrelevant.

        • labeled says:

          @BenderRodriguez: Ditto the tag.

          I’m firmly in the disappointed camp. It was a goddamned industrial accident, I’d really think “exposure to toxic fumes” would be a given, not something to be cheekily air-quoted, as if there’s something darkly sinister going on with the production. If YOUR effing office blew up, you’d be “exposed to toxic fumes” as well.

        • eb0nyknight says:

          @BenderRodriguez: Is that not the real name of the road? I have seen plenty of companies change road names to reflect the product they make. If that’s not really the name of the road, then it’s in bad taste, but I can believe that’s the real name of the road.

          • BenderRodriguez says:

            @eb0nyknight:
            Whether or not that is the real name of the road is not the point. The inclusion of that fact, and that it is pointed out at the end of the article makes the article seem to be making light of a tragic accident. As in “if you didn’t get the point that we’re making fun of this accident, the name of the road the factory is on is kinda funny too.”

      • labeled says:

        @Chris Walters: It might also be noted that ammonia is a common component in refrigeration systems, not some super-Slim-shady way of cooling the sausages.

        You dropped the ball, the entire piece is in poor taste, and you know it. Fixing the photo was a step. Now do the right thing and rewrite the entire damned post. You’re not on Gawker anymore, and should at least try to act as adults.

        • MustyBuckets says:

          @labeled: Really? What else needs changing? Should the consumerist post the names of everyone involved, or should they all photo themselves weeping? How is this article, in any way, light hearted? Why don’t you post something to show me what this should be, as I am reading nothing but facts.

          • labeled says:

            @MustyBuckets: You have a serious reading comprehension problem.

            • MustyBuckets says:

              @labeled: :) I love how that’s your whole argument.

              • labeled says:

                @MustyBuckets: Actually, if you’d read my comments above, you’ve already (presumably) read my whole argument. It didn’t seem as if outlining it again would do any good.

                At least you’ve got this going for you at the end of the day: “OMG, LOLZ, those stupid overly sensitive commenters, I showed them, I really shut ‘em down & brought the funny in that deadly industrial accident thread!”

                Awesome.

                • MustyBuckets says:

                  @labeled: As Chris pointed out, there were no “cheeky air quotes”, the picture has been changed, and the tag isn’t really part of the article, but will probably be one of the many things linking all future slim-jim stories.

                  So how about you reread what I wrote, and I’ll ask again. What is in this article that is making light of the situation, that pokes fun at the tragedy, or that is in general poor taste? I’m not asking this to shut you up, I’m only asking to see what you think is the problem.

                  And I’m a little insulted you are accusing me of trolling Consumerist. All I’ve done is agreed the picture could be counted in poor taste (though I found it to be fine), and that the tag at the end of the article could also be considered lighthearted; but the article itself if factual, and doesn’t present any humor to spite the tragedy.

                  • labeled says:

                    @MustyBuckets: Re-read which of your comments, MustyBuckets? Probably not the one at the end (for now) of this page of comments, right? The one you wish you could retract?

                    I am not accusing you of trolling – as a long time commenter in the Gawker family of sites, trust me when I say that I’m probably guilty of what could definitely be considered inappropriate humor. I am also well-versed in gallows humor (life’ll do that to you).

                    I just don’t find this the time or place for it. (Gallows humor, in particular, is generally shared amongst those affected as a way to handle the stress of a situation, in my experience. It seems callow otherwise, to my apparently delicate sensibilities.)

                    That aside, what I find inappropriate (despite the failed description of AP stylebook quotation usage):

                    The images (previous and current) are still on the “cute” side. To each his/her own on that one. Tough call, apparently. Personally I’d have gone with something along the lines of the ConAgra logo, or a “less cute” image of the debris.

                    The title itself sets the “What’s up with this product?” tone with its “Requires HazMat Team” addition. If an industrial explosion is not enough to warrant a hazmat team, what the hell would be? It is true, but begins casting aspersions.

                    Which continues:

                    A ConAgra plant near Raleigh, N.C., that makes and packages Slim Jim beef jerky was rocked by a huge explosion on Tuesday, killing three employees and sending dozens of workers and three firefighters to hospital with severe burns or “exposure to toxic fumes.”

                    Mr. Walter’s and I will disagree on this one. I am sure he is familiar with the idea that quotations are not necessary in commonly used phrases unless the quote offers a unique point. In this case, the quote is used to draw attention to & set the phrase apart. The reader should be led to ask why? What’s going on in there that a hazardous materials team is necessary?

                    ConAgra spokespeople have been quick to offer funding for workers affected by the plant collapse, but not quite quick enough to explain why the heck they need 34,000 gallons of ammonia to make a spicy meat stick in the first place.

                    Quick enough to explain to whom, exactly, “why the heck” (let’s just call this one what it is – piss-poor writing, or flippant) they need ammonia… this is where we go back to “what’s up with the chemicals in this plant? wtf is that about?” implications.

                    (Your Consumerist sausage experts can tell you that ammonia is used to refrigerate the meat before it’s Jimmified.)

                    What? They use ammonia to refrigerate meat? WTF again? Oh… you meant to say “ammonia is a commonly used component in refrigeration systems”? You mean the meat isn’t in vats of ammonia prior to being made into sausages? Oh, wait… “Jimmified.”

                    The factory, by the way, was located on Jones Sausage Road

                    And? So the hell what?

                    • MustyBuckets says:

                      @labeled: So you are saying that mentioning the requirement of a HazMat team in the title of an article is lighthearted or just poor writing? Plenty of explosions can happen in factories that don’t require hazmat teams because there is no poison gas at most explosions.

                      Yeah, the first image was too wacky, and now the second image is too… food that was manufactured at the plant? Although I noticed the flames and exploding logo, I doubt that it was intentional.

                      They pulled the quote directly from wral.com, from an article about the same story. Although it’s a three word phrase, and wral isn’t likely to go after the Consumerist, this is the correct method of using someone else’s words, regardless of what you think.

                      I feel asking why there was chemicals in the plant that have poisoned people a valid question. “Why the heck” is just a phrase used to replace why the hell, which people would not have questioned as being ‘lighthearted’ although your standards of journalism that you hold this site to might still find it “piss-poor writing” I find it adds a very human tone the story, which is a Consumerist thing.

                      Saying Ammonia is used to refrigerate the meat explains why it was there. I’ll go to HowStuffWorks.com for the full details that don’t pertain to the story. And yes, everyone agrees that Jimmified is a unique word, but ‘processed into spicy smokey meat sticks’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. The use of the made up word doesn’t, in any way, impact the seriousness of the article, or make light of the deaths caused by the accident.

                      Jones Sausage Road – It’s just the location of the plant. It can be found on the linked website too, wral.com

                      Yes, I regret what I posted below, only because it could be used to further incite everyone, not because I don’t find the picture more funny, or more tasteless than the previous one, but this is unintentional, so I didn’t want people to think that anyone posted it to piss everyone off more.

                    • labeled says:

                      @MustyBuckets: I’d prefer to agree to disagree at this point, if you don’t mind. I’ve said my peace, made my point, and don’t expect everyone to agree.

                      I also would like to apologize to Chris for the “failed stylebook explanation” comment as uncalled for. After all, of those of us with a supposed dog in this fight, only one is a paid editor at Consumerist. ;)

                    • MustyBuckets says:

                      @labeled: Sorry I took it this far, I had a really crappy day and could have used some humor, and instead of seeing it as the tragedy it is, I just saw it as someone trying to take away my funny. I’ve cooled down and taken a step back, and really want to say sorry for blowing this thing so far out of proportion.

                    • labeled says:

                      @MustyBuckets: No need to apologize, but I will as well. I’m white, I like getting offended, and I’m a mom, so I like telling people how they should act.

                      Although, I would like to say thanks to the Consumerist staff for letting us vent/duke it out/complain w/out shutting us down with disemvowelment. And for making me stretch my brain a bit today, also.

            • Chris Walters says:

              @labeled: The phrase “exposure to toxic fumes” is in quotes because it was lifted straight from the article referenced at the bottom of the post. It was not “cheekily air-quoted” (see? there’s another example!).

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @Chris Walters: This isn’t the NYT, Chris. We come here for your unique editorial voice. :)

  27. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    I remember when the ingredients listed included Cow Lips as the actual casing used to house all that dried, meat-like goodness. Oh Boy they were chewy and salty back then. SO YUM.

    Sort of like when WackArnold’s used to cook their fries in LARD. NUMBER BEST!

  28. takes_so_little says:

    @Xanaxian: LOLZ

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    “Consumerist Sausage Expert”
    Am I the only one that thinks that sounds dirrrty?!

  30. MustyBuckets says:

    Love the new picture, with the exploding Slim Jim Logo. The actual product is funnier than a man in a cape eating a Slim Jim.

  31. redkamel says:

    I think the reference to sausage experts was a reference to people who rush to defend the company, obstensibly as experts in the product/field, and would say all that chemical is part of the refrigeration. Or it might refer to the fact that ammonia is actually part of refrigeration.

    I dont which is true, I just thought it was heads up that the board would explain/”explain” why the ammonia was there.

    Also, I did not find the tone excessively distasteful, since there were no jokes (I assume the plant IS located on Sausage road) and the picture, well, its someone snapping into a slim jim. Its their whole ad campaign.

  32. grapedog says:

    If I had a nickle for every time some windbag got offended by someone else over something stupid, everyone on this planet would be dead from nickle suffocation.

    Are people REALLY hurt by the light-hearted tone The Consumerist is taking with this story? Where does it hurt anyhow?

    I’ve been curious as to where overly sensative people, with only the slightest grip on reality, feel the pain they feel when their sensative, empathetic, hearts are torn asunder from the bad news of people dying.

    I’m huting too…my head is hurting. I love finding out who the overly sensative people are, because they are the BEST to mess around with.

  33. Adhominem says:

    I don’t know if anybody has said it yet but….

    SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM!

  34. esthermofet says:

    Next time you pick up a Slim Jim, look at the ingredients. One of the top items is, “Mechanically separated chicken.” I’ll leave it to your imagination to consider how, exactly, a chicken could be mechanically separated. That said, I’d imagine that they might need to update the ingredients to read: “Explosively separated chicken”. Or, maybe even “Soylent Green”.

    • grapedog says:

      @esthermofet: This is no time for comedy buddy…3 people died! People are affected!

      When 3 people die you cannot make funny comments…

      But when millions of people are out of work, losing their life savings, country is going to hell in a handbasket…you CAN joke about those things.

      Death is not natural while government failure is…wise up horrible person!

      • Kelly Lum says:

        @grapedog: Yes! No laughing, ever, when people die! Because humor is ALWAYS intended as disrespect when dead people are involved. It’s never a coping mechanism, or an attempt to soften the blow of bad news, or trying to get something good out of a crappy situation. MAKING FUN OF SLIM JIMS IS LIKE PEEING ON THEIR GRAVES DAMNIT

  35. Nixi says:

    No matter my opinion, it is obvious MANY people were offended. With that said I don’t think Consumerist should apologize or make an edit unless they genuinely feel they should.

    We all hate when a company gets back to us and says, “We are taking the issue very seriously…”

    I would prefer no response over insincerity.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @Nixi: Agreed. We’ve made the edits we felt were necessary and I’ve personally apologized in the Update. That’s the end of it.

      • Anathema777 says:

        @Chris Walters: I’m confused. On the homepage I can see the updated picture, but when I click on the article, I see the same text and the same picture as this morning.

        • Chris Walters says:

          @Anathema777: Gawker’s servers seem to take forever to propagate changes, at least when it comes to images. Text edits seem to show up immediately but images can take hours.

        • MustyBuckets says:

          @Anathema777: When the Consumerist changes articles, it usually takes some times for the updates to clear through to our computers. I’m not sure why, maybe all the servers don’t update at the same time, or the page might be designed to better cache in our browsers, but it’s not unusual for this to take an hour or two after the changes.

          But, as of 1:20PM EST I still don’t see anything myself.

    • edwardso says:

      @Nixi: thats how I feel, I hate when people apologize for things that they obviously meant.

  36. eh_remraf says:

    Not lighthearted enough…

  37. Jeff the Riffer says:

    Not only did people die, one of them died rescuing other people.

    So no, this really isn’t an appropriate article at all, since it has nothing to do with the end-product.

  38. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    Thanks Chris!

  39. econobiker says:

    Industrial accidents are always a tragic happening and often are not caused by a single factor but a combination of factors. I work in a major US manufacturing plant and even the smallest incident is documented and analyzed for figuring out safer ways to do something.

    Some reports mentioned the plant was old and I imagine that they may not have a robust safety program related to explosions- probably one related to cut/crush injuries but not extreme events.

    As an aside- to me it seems that Slim Jim changed their formula within the last two-three years and, in my opinion, went downhill so I stopped buying the product about 18-24 months ago…

  40. Trai_Dep says:

    If it’s an old plant, in the Deep South, with a tank that burst… Well, I hope their inspection and safety regime exceeds norms.
    I hope it’s not another one of those mine-collapsing stories where it turns out the managers skimped costs to ensure worker safety. There’s not enough information yet to say either way (so I’m not either).
    It took over a week for the details of the cause of the mine collapse details to come out, so I hope that Consumerist follows this story as it develops.

  41. econobiker says:

    [www.wral.com]

    Pictures 9, 13, 21, 25, and 31 show the wall panels of the plant that were blown out and fell over onto cars parked in the parking lot. This looks to be is a pre-cast (usualy on site during construction) monolithic concrete wall. This is(was) a common industrial building technique in more temperate areas as it is cheap and quick. The panels are cast on the sand of the foundation, uprighted into a foundation slot with supports between them at intervals, and in this case seem to have separately cast header parts that lock them together and provided support for the roof beams (#17 the long block in front of the squished red vehicle -it separated from the shorter width wall panels- one is still in place on the wall panels).

    The panels also have what appear to be white insulation panels attached to them which would mean a cold processing or storage area.

  42. HogwartsAlum says:

    I would like to see an update when they determine the ammonia issue. It sounds like this is a topic for some concern for people who work in these manufacturing plants. We have had other stories on this site about crappy or dangerous workplaces.

    It does sound like Conagra is trying to do right by the people. And cover their butts.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Before starting this ‘lecture’, I’d like to pay respect to those who were injured or died in this tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who died or were injured, as well as their coworkers and ConAgra for this loss.

    For those of you wondering about the ammonia, I‚Äôd like to help you with some information. I work in a niche field of Process Safety Management of anhydrous ammonia refrigeration. For your information, anhydrous ammonia is the refrigeration of choice for industrial sized refrigeration facilities. If you eat/drink dairy products, vegetables, fruit, eat meat (processed or unprocessed), drink beer from large breweries, drink soda, eat fast food, buy bagged ice, and so on and so on, you have eaten something that has been refrigerated by ammonia at some point in time. It is the most efficient and it is very safe. For those questioning that, I teach people that ammonia is fantastic when used properly and horrible if abused… but then again, so is a car. If you are offended by ammonia and the concerns of it being toxic, put a clamp on your winky, because you urinate it (of course, it isn’t purified). It is naturally occurring and is legally dumped by millions of gallons each year as a fertilizer.

    As far as danger goes, you can be badly hurt or killed by ammonia as it is considered toxic. Then again, there are likely more people murdered in a weekend in any of the major metropolitan cities in the country than are killed with ammonia in a given year. It is a respect thing. Follow the rules, use your training, and things will be fine. Ammonia is flammable under EXTREME concentrations. Due to the nature of the smell of ammonia (we say it is “self alarming”), you will immediately know when there is even the slightest leak. Chances of being in a facility that explodes (or conflagrates, more accurately) due to an ammonia leak without smelling it are exceptionally unlikely.

    In terms of this facility, it appears that the explosion was NOT from ammonia. Multiple reports from persons working there say that there was no indication when the explosion happened. In order for an area so large to reach the [lower] explosion limit for ammonia, there would have been a major evacuation before the potential of ignition would occur. Consider this, the HAZMAT teams were saying that the level of ammonia they were reading from ‘sniffers’ was around 10 parts per million (ppm) Рyou will start gagging from the smell of ammonia around 100 ppm – the lower explosion limit for ammonia is 15,000 ppm. You get the point.

    One last clarification (and I’m sure the Consumerist writer was just repeating information written by the AP), the facility did not lose 33,000 gallons of ammonia. The facilities ammonia charge is approximately 32,000 pounds, roughly one-sixth of the amount stated.

    Sorry if this was boring (I hope it didn’t get me banned!), but the truth is often not very exciting.

  44. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    Why don’t you put the original picture back and let us vote on it instead :) I wanna see the original…