Tyson Foods chief executive officer Noel White said the company’s meat and poultry plants are experiencing varying levels of production impact, due to the planned implementation of additional worker safety precautions and worker absenteeism. In particular, White said the company has now suspended operations at its Columbus Junction, Iowa, pork plant this week due to more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 involving team members at the facility. However, he noted that the livestock originally scheduled for delivery to Columbus Junction is getting diverted to other Tyson pork plants in the region “to minimize the impact on our overall production.”
“We’re working hard to protect our team members during this ever-changing situation, while also ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people across the country,” White said.
The company is currently taking the temperature of workers at all its locations before they enter company facilities. Most facilities are using temporal thermometers, but implemented infrared temperature scanners have also been implemented at a few locations. It has also stepped up deep cleaning and sanitizing, especially in employee breakrooms, locker rooms and other areas, to protect team members. But, White said the additional cleaning sometimes requires suspending at least one day of production.
The company is also coordinating federal agencies to emphasize the need for personal protective equipment to support our team members as we remain open.
“We’re working to secure an adequate supply of protective face coverings for production workers and have implemented interim protocols for temporary protective coverings, while observing food safety.”
To promote more social distancing in plants, the company has erected dividers between workstations or increased the space between workers on the production floor, which can involve slowing production lines. It has also created more room in non-production areas.
“While these are challenging times, we remain committed to protecting our people while continuing to meet the needs of our customers and consumers across America.”