The 2020 Food Safety Consortium Virtual Conference Series will discuss COVID-19 Lessons Learned and Worker Safety | The Event runs September 3 through December 17 | Register NowA poultry processing plant operated by Foster Farms must shut down per the Merced County Department of Public Health (California) as a result of a large COVID-19 outbreak that has resulted in the death of eight employees. At least 358 workers at the facility located in Livingston, California have tested positive for COVID-19 (an outbreak was officially declared on June 29). Several buildings make up the Livingston facility, which employs about 2600 workers.
“In view of increasing deaths and uncontrolled COVID-19 cases, the decision was made to order the Livingston Plant within the Foster Farms Livingston Complex closed until acceptable safety measures are in place,” said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Merced County’s Public Health Officer. In addition, the Los Angeles Times reports that officials are concerned the outbreak could be worse than reported because universal worker testing has not been completed.
The plant will reportedly close until September 7. During the closure, the facility will be deep cleaned and employees will engage in a new round of testing. Merced County states that an employee cannot return to work until he or she receives two negative COVID-19 test results within seven days.
On Sunday China’s General Administration of Customs announced that it would be suspending imported shipments of poultry from a Tyson Foods plant based in Springdale, Arkansas. The suspension is reportedly due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the facility.
On Friday Tyson Foods announced the results of COVID-19 testing conducted at its facilities in northwestern Arkansas (Benton and Washington counties): 3,748 employees were tested; 481 tested positive, and 95% were asymptomatic.
“The results across our Northwest Arkansas facilities, and the country more broadly, reflect how much is still unknown about this virus, which is why Tyson is committed to providing information to our local health officials and enhanced education to our team members,” said Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson Foods stated in a company press release. “Through our inclusive approach to large-scale testing, we are finding that a very high level of team members who test positive do not show symptoms. Identifying asymptomatic cases helps the community, since other testing is often limited to people who feel unwell.”
Meanwhile, it has also been reported that officials in China want the inspection process of overseas shipments ramped up, as they suspect that COVID-19 could be present on imported frozen food products.
Over the weekend PepsiCo’s Beijing operations were suspended following confirmed coronavirus cases at its chips production facility.
Last week new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Beijing, leading to concerns of a resurgence of the virus. Some new cases have been linked to the Xinfadi Market, a wholesale food market.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to the food industry, especially in meat and poultry processing facilities. On Wednesday, May 27, Food Safety Tech is hosting a complimentary webinar, “Is Your Plant COVID-19 Safe?”, to provide realistic advice and tips on how to mitigate workplace exposure risks related to COVID-19. Our subject matter expert speaker, Trish Wester, founder of The Association for Food Safety Auditing Professionals, will also insights into updated cleaning and sanitation practices, and how companies can make sure that their facilities are more prepared for the entire period of the pandemic. The event is sponsored by Sterilex.