Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, is resuming limited operations at its pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, effective April 21, after being idle for two weeks due to COVID-19 concerns.
Noel White, CEO of Tyson Foods, announced on April 6 that operations at the plant had been suspended “due to more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 involving team members at the facility.” That suspension was originally scheduled to last one week, but the company has since extended the temporary plant closure for an additional week.
Tyson Foods spokeswoman Liz Croston confirmed that two workers at the Columbus Junction plant.
“Our first priority is protecting our team members while they fulfill their critical mission of feeding families across the country during this challenging time,” said Tyson Foods President Dean Banks. “We plan to increase production at Columbus Junction gradually, with the safety of our team members top of mind.”
Tyson Foods formed a coronavirus task force in January and has implemented numerous measures to protect workers. It was one of the first food companies to start taking worker temperatures and is in the process of installing more than 150 infrared temperature scanners in its facilities.
The company started efforts to secure a supply of face coverings before the CDC recommended them and now requires their use in all facilities.
In an effort to promote social distancing, many company facilities have installed workstation dividers and are providing more breakroom space.
The Columbus Junction pork plant, which produces fresh, boxed pork for shipment to foodservice and retail customers around the world, is an important market outlet to hundreds of independent pig farmers in the region.
Tyson Foods’ other meat and poultry plants continue operations, with some running at reduced levels of production either due to the planned implementation of additional worker safety precautions or worker absenteeism. The company has suspended production for a day at some locations for additional deep cleaning and sanitization.
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