At Beleaguered U.S. Meat Plants, Inspectors Are Getting Sick Too

Thursday, April 23, 2020
By Paul Martin

Deena Shanker Lydia Mulvany
April 23 2020

(Bloomberg) — One hundred U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have tested positive for the coronavirus as the illness ravages the nation’s meat processing plants. The workers are part of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which employs about 6,500 inspectors, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed Thursday. USDA is taking measures to supply masks to workers, though they currently ma

The infections among inspectors add to the growing concerns about the safety and viability of the nation’s meat supply after several major U.S. factories closed in recent weeks due to outbreaks. USDA inspectors need to be physically present in processing plants to make sure standards for cleanliness and worker protection are being met. Inspectors have been traveling between plants with known infec

“A traveling inspector bringing in the disease is our biggest worry,” said Mike Callicrate, a rancher, processor and advocate in Kansas. The agency “must maintain inspection of all meat, poultry, and egg products to ensure Americans continue to have a safe food supply during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic,” the USDA said in a statement. “To achieve this, we are minimizing the movement of our insp

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