Tyson Foods - the world’s second largest meat processing facility, says it plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its largest pork plant in the United States to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Tyson shutdown a pig slaughterhouse along with two other major U.S. meat companies that closed their pork and beef facilities.
Smithfield Foods, the world's biggest pork processor, also stopped production.
It’s reported that this could lead to a shortage of meat products - with pork being at the top of the list, due to the closure of the facilities.
The Arkansas-based company said the closure of the plant in Waterloo, Iowa, would deny a vital market to hog farmers and further disrupt U.S. meat supply.
The National Pork Board says the plant can process 19,500 pigs per day, accounting for 3.9% of U.S. pork processing capacity
To date, more than 180 infections have been linked to the plant and officials expect that number to dramatically rise.
Testing of its 2,800 workers is expected to begin Friday. Tyson Fresh Meats president Steve Stouffer said the closure in Iowa was driven by “the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns.”
He warned of “significant ramifications” for the farmers, distributors and grocers in the supply chain.
Tyson said workers would be compensated during the shutdown and that the timing of reopening would depend on several factors, including testing.