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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Red Meat Companies Cognizant of COVID Threat to Workers


Speaking at the Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum on Monday October 5th, Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA Holdings outlined measures taken by his company to improve safety in hog and beef plants.  Stunned by criticism from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, negative OSHA reports and public reaction, JBS is apparently now implementing standard procedures to prevent transmission of COVID in their plants.  The company has intensified testing and is using an algorithm based on incidence rates to test in both plants and the communities where workers reside.


JBS SA the parent company engendered both national and international condemnation for a slow response to COVID in their plants in Brazil. Belatedly JBS will invest approximately $200 million in developing automated processing systems, recognizing the inevitability of displacing manual workers performing repetitive tasks.


Nogueira does not anticipate plant closures such as those that occurred in April and May when the entire industry was unprepared to respond to the COVID crisis and beef and pork output was halved and the supply chain disrupted.


It is unknown whether the low incidence rates recorded in plants during the past month are due to the testing protocols used or whether protective measures have reduced the rate of spread. It is questioned whether plant workers have developed protective antibodies. Accordingly sampling to ascertain the level of immunity would be beneficial in guiding future planning and to evaluate the effect of protective measures.


Mark Lauritsen representing the United Food and Commerical Workers Union noted that the measures taken by JBS albeit late in the pandemic have created a higher sense of security among workers.  This is exemplified by the fact that JBS is re-employing older workers who were sent home with pay since they were regarded as being at a higher risk of complications from infection compared to their younger colleagues.

Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane