Minnesota Pork Plant Shuts Down After Outbreak Among Workers

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JBS SA, the world’s top meat company, will shutter its pork processing facility in Minnesota following an outbreak of coronavirus, adding to concerns that slaughterhouse logjams will tighten meat supplies for consumers.

The Worthington, Minnesota, facility accounts for about 5% of U.S. capacity. It will wind down operations over two days to ensure existing product in the facility can be used to support the food supply, the company said Monday in a statement. The move comes after seven workers tested positive for the virus and officials from the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday the number will likely rise. No date was given for a reopening.

“As we all learn more about coronavirus, it is clear that the disease is far more widespread across the U.S. and in our county than official estimates indicate based on limited testing,” Bob Krebs, president of JBS USA Pork said in a statement. “We have taken aggressive actions to keep coronavirus out of our plant and keep this critical infrastructure facility operational.”

The shutdown is the latest blow to the nation’s meatpacking industry that’s struggling to contain the spread of coronavirus among its workers and spurring concerns of a shortfall in pork and beef at grocery stores. Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork producer, indefinitely shut down a slaughter plant in South Dakota last week after hundreds of workers tested positive for Covid-19. The plant typically accounted for 4% to 5% of total hog processing in the U.S. Worker deaths have been reported at Tyson Foods Inc. pork plant in Iowa, the company’s poultry plant in Georgia, and at a Cargill Inc. plant in Colorado. – READ MORE

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