by Diana R. H. Winters
One of the country’s largest pork processing facilities announced that it is closing indefinitely. The Smithfields Foods, Inc. plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota will close after almost 300 of its workers tested positive for coronavirus. The plant employs 3700 workers and produces about four percent of the pork production in the United States.
Other major meat producers, including JBS USA and Tyson, have closed facilities after workers tested positive, and in some instances, died.
These closures illuminate significant worker safety problems at meat production plants. Manufacturers have been slow to provide protective equipment to low-wage workers standing close together to process meat and have pressured employees to remain working even if sick.
Moreover, these closures are one of many Covid-19 food supply chain issues resulting from the shutdown, which also include the inability of food producers to repackage food meant for institutional or restaurant use for retail use. The New York Times reported on the resulting massive food waste this past weekend.
All of the articles linked in this post can be found in the Resnick Center’s and the UCLA Law Library’s resource guide to Covid-19 and food law. Here in the blog we will occasionally highlight important trends and stories we see emerging. Please explore our guide, and forward relevant material for inclusion in the guide.