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AP Photo/Hau Dinh
On alert.
COVID CUTS

Covid-19 has shut down parts of the hyper-consolidated US meat industry

Chase Purdy
Member exclusive by Chase Purdy

A Tyson-owned meat processing plant that churns out 2% of the US pork supply ground to a halt this week as workers became infected with Covid-19.

And that wasn’t the only meatpacking plant impacted by the spread of the novel coronavirus. JBS USA on March 31 said it hit pause on much of its work at a beef facility in Souderton, Pennsylvania and wouldn’t have it back online until mid-April. National Beef Packing on April 2 temporarily stopped slaughtering cattle at one of its plants in Tama, Iowa after a worker tested positive for the virus.

Plant closures are emblematic of a larger issue across the US food system, as farms and companies work to weather the storm of Covid-19. The health and safety of workers is paramount if food chains are to continue running smoothly—and workers’ perceived safety appears to vary across the industry.