Tyson executive says little can be done to prevent a meat shortage


FILE – This Nov. 18, 2011, file photo, shows a Tyson food product, in Montpelier, Vt. The Department of Justice tipped its hand last week when it requested a temporary halt to discovery proceedings in a 2016 class-action lawsuit filed by food distributor Maplevale Farms. Maplevale accuses Tyson Foods Inc., Perdue Farms Inc. and others of conspiring to fix poultry prices between 2008 and 2016. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Tyson Foods is scrambling to continue processing meat while containing coronavirus outbreaks at plants across the country. 

Just this week, the company announced that 25 percent of its workforce at a North Carolina plant contracted the coronavirus. That’s roughly 570 people. 

The plant had to be shut down twice in the last two weeks for deep cleaning. 

According to a press release, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyson has transformed the way it operates and has put in place a host of safeguards and guidelines that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance at our more than 100 production facilities across the country. 

This includes: 

  • Wellness health screening of all team members. 
  • Supply of protective facial coverings.  
  • Implemented extensive social distancing measures including additional physical barriers. 
  • Posted dedicated team members throughout facilities to ensure employees adhere to safety and social distancing protocols. 
  • Partnered with Matrix Medical, a leading provider of mobile health clinics, to provide on-site health services to our team members in select locations. 

On Friday, Tyson Foods Senior Vice President Hector Gonzalez pointed out little can be done to prevent a meat shortage. 

“I don’t know if you can entirely prevent a reduction in the availability of supplies,” said Gonzalez. “We believe that as we continue to navigate the situation and our plants continue to ramp up and minimize the disruption, we will see our ability to meet that demand improve with time.” 

Gonzalez says the company plans to release COVID-19 figures from its plant in Accomack County. 

“Testing is an important part of how we intend to remain knowledgeable and abreast of what we can do to ensure the safety and health of our team members and their families and so it is an important element of our program,” said Gonzalez. 

Tyson employs more than 100,000 workers nationwide and the company is committed to feeding America while keeping its workers safe. 

“We know that the only way for us to operate our business is for our team members to feel safe and protected at work and to not have fear of coming to work,” he said. 

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