The coronavirus has taken a toll on the supply of meat across sections of North America, forcing the closure of several processing plants.
One of the biggest closures to date was Sunday's indefinite shuttering of a Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota that is responsible for around five percent of the U.S. daily pork supply.
closure came after almost 300 of its 3,700 workers tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. "The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply," said Smithfield President and CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan in a statement.
Other plants to close their doors - at least temporarily include : the JBS USA plant in Greeley, Colorado that is responsible for five percent of the U.S. daily beef slaughter. On Monday, plant officials said it will be closed until April 24. Another plant is the which said Monday it would close until April 24. Another plant is the Tyson Foods hog slaughterhouse in Columbus Junction, Iowa that on Monday said it would extend an April 6 closure for another week.
Also closed is the National Beef Packing Co. plant in Tama, Iowa that suspended cattle slaughtering until the week of April 20.
In Canada, the Olymel pork plant in Yamachiche, Quebec, closed for two weeks starting March 29 and the Maple Leaf Foods poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario suspended production April 8.
It’s reported that meat processing workers are particularly vulnerable to infection as they stand very close to each other on assembly lines and share crowded locker rooms.
This has led some food safety and worker advocates to criticize companies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for not doing more earlier to prevent the spread of the virus.