HYRUM – Meat processing plants across the country are COVID-19 hotspots and many have shuttered until they get control, modify their practices and facilities to keep the deadly virus at bay.
JBS in Hyrum is one meat processing facility that is still going strong and its parent company, Pilgrim’s Pride, has invested more than $200 million to support its team members and their communities in North America. There are reports that some JBS U.S. plants have been affected by the virus so one of the country’s top producers of meat has gone to great lengths to reduce the spread of the infection.
All JBS facilities are open and operating, said company spokesman Bruett Cameron.
“We have had to fundamentally alter our operations due to coronavirus,” he said. “All of our facilities are currently open and operating.”
The meat packing company adopted more than $100 million in enhanced safety measures to keep their workplaces and team members safe. JBS has also increased sanitation and disinfection efforts, health screening and temperature checking, team member training and physical distancing.
They are also trying to protect their employees with reduced line speeds and increased availability of personal protective equipment, including face masks and face shields.
Pilgrim’s Pride companies have hired more than 1,000 new team members to conduct additional, around-the-clock sanitation and cleaning services, and to provide education, training and enforcement of COVID-19 preventive measures.
“Since the arrival of the global coronavirus pandemic, our priority has been and remains the safety of our team members providing food for all of us,” said Andre Nogueira, JBS USA CEO in a statement. “We recognize our responsibility as a food company during this crisis and we have continuously evolved our operations, based on the latest available guidance from experts, to improve our coronavirus preventive measures.”
The company has invested more than $100 million to enhance safeguards for their workforce and more than $50 million to reward team members with thank-you bonuses.
JBS USA and Pilgrim’s will invest more than $50 million in the local communities where their team members live and work. The investment will include donations to alleviate food insecurity, strengthen long-term community infrastructure and well-being, and support COVID-19 emergency response and relief efforts.
The investment is part of the $120 million global social commitment recently announced by JBS USA.
The companies are also investing in innovative technologies to combat the potential spread of coronavirus in their facilities, including ultraviolet (UV) germicidal air sanitation and plasma air technology to neutralize potential viruses in plant ventilation and air purification systems.
JBS USA and Pilgrim’s have removed approximately 10 percent of the eligible workforce in the United States that are the most vulnerable populations from their facilities, with full pay and benefits.
The gesture exceeds any recommended guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bruett said.
“We salute the men and women who are supplying food to those who need it most and the local communities that have always sustained our business,” Nogueira said. “We are not perfect and this has not been an easy time for any of us, but we are working tirelessly to keep our team members safe and provide food during this pandemic. We are all in this fight together.”