June 3, 2020

Smithfield Foods Closes Sioux Falls, SD Plant For COVID-19

Smithfield Foods is announcing that it is closing its plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota indefinitely because it is a hot spot for COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus. Almost 300 of the plant’s employees have tested positive for coronavirus.

Smithfield Foods Closes Sioux Falls, SD Plant For COVID-19

This one plant provides about 5% of the nation’s pork supply. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem sent a joint letter to the company along with Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, asking that they “do more” about the pandemic and recommending that they shut down for 14 days. Sioux Falls has more coronavirus cases per capita than larger cities such as Chicago.

While public health officials continue to reassure the public that the food supply in this country has not been reduced or harmed by the pandemic, Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield said in a statement, “The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running. These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals.”

The FDA, CDC, and USDA continue to state that coronavirus is not transmitted through food. The virus needs a live organism to reproduce. And although the virus can stay infectious on packaging for a few days, there have been no reports of any illnesses linked to food packaging.

Other meatpacking plants besides the Smithfield Foods plant have temporarily closed, including JBS USA in Souderton, Pennsylvania, Cargill in Pennsylvania and Iowa, and Tyson Foods, also in Pennsylvania and Iowa, and National Beef Packing in Iowa. There is concern about the ability of the industry to hire and retain workers in the face of the pandemic.

 

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