Tyson Foods: At this rate, U.S. grocery stores will soon face a shortage of meat products
As the pandemic continues to trigger the closures of businesses across the nation, one of the world's largest distributors of chicken, beef, and pork warns that at this rate, America's grocery stores face a drastic shortage of meat products.
"The food supply chain is breaking," wrote board chairman John Tyson in a full-page advertisement published Sunday in The New York Times, Washington Post and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
He explained that as processing facilities continue to close, America's farmers will run out of places to sell their livestock, and "millions of animals — chickens, pigs and cattle — will simply be slaughtered.
"There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed," Tyson wrote.
Last week, Tyson foods temporarily closed its facilities in Iowa and Indiana so workers there could be tested for COVID-19.
The Waterloo plant closure came after weeks of public pressure. Production had already slowed there because many of its 2,800 workers had been calling out sick, and local health authorities linked the Tyson plant to 182 cases — nearly half of the county's total.
CNN spoke to three employees who work in the facility and expressed ongoing concerns that not enough was done to protect them from Covid-19. One worker said that practicing social distancing inside the facility was nearly impossible to do.
Asked by CNN about those claims, Tyson Foods said that plants were sanitized daily. And Tyson, the chairman, wrote in Sunday's advertisement that the company has taken steps to protect its workers, including taking their temperatures and requiring face masks in all of its facilities. He added that the company is paying out bonuses to frontline workers and truckers, as well as donating food in local communities.
Some of the country's largest abattoirs (processing plants or slaughterhouses) have been forced to cease operations temporarily after thousands of employees across the country have tested positive for the virus.
Pork processing plants have been hit especially hard, with three of the largest in the United States going offline indefinitely— Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; JBS pork processing in Worthington, Minnesota; and the Tyson plant in Waterloo, Iowa. Together, the three plants account for approximately 15% of pork production.