Apr 23, 2020 - Health

Tyson Foods closes another meat plant indefinitely due to coronavirus

Tyson frozen chicken
Photo: Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images

Tyson Foods said Thursday it's closing a beef plant in Washington state indefinitely as workers undergo coronavirus testing, warning in a statement that "the closure will mean reduced food supplies."

Why it matters: The facility in Pasco, Wash., produces enough beef in one day to feed four million people, according to Tyson. At least 12 meatpacking plants and three processed food plants have now closed due to the coronavirus, according to data collected by the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN).

The state of play: Tyson Foods said health officials will help test its more than 1,400 team members "as soon as possible." Employees will continue to be compensated while under quarantine at their homes. 

The big picture: The spread of the virus has affected a number of large agribusiness companies in addition to Tyson, including JBS, Cargill, Conagra, Hormel and Kraft Heinz.

  • Meat packing plants often put employees in close proximity with limited protective gear. At least 2,460 workers at food plants across the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus and at least 17 have died, according to FERN.
  • With shutdowns and limited production, farmers have nowhere to send their livestock, causing backed up supply chains that may soon result in a meat shortage.

Go deeper: USDA says meat inspectors responsible for protective gear

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