Major pork plant closed after hundreds of workers contract coronavirus, while speeding up of poultry production lines raises concerns over standards
The US government is accelerating controversial regulatory rollbacks to speed up production at meat plants, as companies express growing alarm at the impact of Covid-19 on their operations.
Last week Smithfield shut down one of the largest pork plants in the country after hundreds of employees contracted the coronavirus. The plant in South Dakota – whose output represents 4–5% of US pork production – is reported to be the largest single-source coronavirus hotspot in the US, with more than 600 cases. In response, the company said it was “critical” for the meat industry to “continue to operate unabated”.
Now it has emerged that as a wave of plants announce closures, US meat plants are being granted permission to increase the speed of their production lines. This comes despite warnings that the waivers for higher speeds on slaughter and processing lines will compromise food safety.