Tyson Foods Halts Work at Large Iowa Pork Plant to Curb Coronavirus Spread

April 23, 2020

Tyson Foods Inc. plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its largest pork plant in the United States to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the company said on Wednesday.

It said the Waterloo, Iowa plant had already been working at reduced capacity, adding that the 2,800 workers at the plant, to be compensated during the closure, would be invited to come in later this week for coronavirus testing.

The announcement marks the latest disruption to the U.S. food supply chain from the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed at least 177,000 people across the globe.

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Iowa Pork Plant Reopens as Another Begins Testing

Tyson Foods resumed limited operations at its pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, where more than 200 workers have become infected and at least two have died. In northern Iowa, Wright County officials reported Monday that 16 employees at a pork processing facility run by Prestage Foods of Iowa have tested positive.

Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, has also shut a U.S. plant indefinitely following cases of COVID-19 among employees and warned the country was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers.

“The combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production,” Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats said.

Earlier this month, the company shut an Iowa hog slaughterhouse after more than 24 cases of COVID-19 involving employees at the facility.

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Photo: The Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, is viewed Thursday, April 16, 2020. Two employees have died after a coronavirus outbreak at the plant. The plant has been shut down since April 6. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP)

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