Maintaining feed production is an “essential and critical” step in supporting the food chain, a Cargill spokesperson told us. The Minnesota-based agri-giant has instituted a range of steps to address the ongoing virus outbreak, and maintain output.
"We are adopting additional precautions to support staff at production facilities, including temperature testing where possible, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, prohibiting visitors from our facilities, stopping or limiting international and domestic air travel, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering shift flexibility to keep our major production facilities open.
“We are working with local health officials to ensure appropriate prevention, testing, cleaning and quarantine protocols are followed as needed.
“Our manufacturing facilities are an essential and critical part of the food supply chain, [and] we are taking many precautionary actions to keep all of our plants safe and operational to ensure we can continue to serve our customers."
He has reported an increase in volume demand from buyers, amid all the market uncertainty. “In response to this, we are running many of our plants at high rates to be able to meet our customers’ needs."
However, reduced staffing stemming from COVID-19 restrictions or quarantines may cause the company to scale down production or alter shift patterns, the spokesperson said.
“We are taking measures to keep our employees safe. By following Cargill safety practices and local regulations, we believe our facilities will continue to remain operational,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to reassure our customers that we will be able to meet their needs.”
Similarly, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) has established a plan to address the virus outbreak, the company reported. Its protocol includes enhancing hygiene at all facilities, thorough cleaning and scaling back on staff working in offices and facilities where possible as well as limiting non-critical travel for employees and contractors along with non-business-critical visits to company locations.
All visitors, including delivery drivers, are being screened for disease symptoms, the company said. Procedures in place to manage the potential exposure of employees or employee partners are based on guidelines from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Dealing with staff testing positive for COVID-19
Meanwhile, Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms, the third largest fully integrated poultry producer in the US, confirmed last week [March 23] that a staff member at one of its processing plants had tested positive for COVID-19. It reported that several steps were taken following the diagnosis to protect the rest of the staff including sending the employee and several others into a paid self-quarantine.
The facility in question and other company locations received a thorough cleaning and work with the Mississippi State Department of Health is ongoing, reported Sanderson Farms. The site and other production plants are up an running as normal, said the poultry giant.
“Sanderson Farms has implemented a site infection control plan at all its locations under which company health professionals have been trained to identify employees with symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus,” the company reported. “Recognizing that very few of Sanderson Farms’ employees can do their jobs remotely, the company’s processing and production sites are continuously evaluating staffing needs, as well as on-site health and safety measures to manage through this pandemic.”
The food supply chain remains important to preserving the wellbeing of the country, the company said. “There are no known indications that novel coronavirus can be transmitted through food," it added.