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This Chicken Processing Plant Ordered to Shut Down After Deadly Outbreak

358 infections and eight deaths have occurred at this one location of the national company.
factory inspector

The coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt our daily lives, as well as the food supply chain we all rely on—and in a gravely brutal way.

In fact, a recent outbreak of COVID-19 at a Foster Farms chicken processing plant in Livingston, California has caused eight deaths and over 35o infections amongst its 3,750 employees. (Foster Farms is one of the largest chicken processing companies in the world with about 12,000 employees across the country.) As a result, on Wednesday, the Merced County Health Department ordered that the Livingston facility be shut down immediately.

The Merced County Health Department statement reveals that Foster Farms had tested less than 100 employees in the facility by late July—all in one department—and that over 25 percent of the employees screened had tested positive. Testing was not expanded for three weeks, and in that time, three fatalities were linked to that department alone.

"Foster Farms' poultry operation in Livingston, California, has experienced an alarming spread of COVID-19 among its workers," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in the written statement. "Nobody can ignore the facts: It's time to hit the reset button on Foster Farms' Livingston plant."

This recent outbreak is yet another example of the significant impact that the spread of COVID-19 has had on meat processing plants, and the food industry in general. In the earliest days of the pandemic, Smithfield's pork processing plant in South Dakota suspended operations, which was the first of a long list of other meatpackers and food processors that also shuttered amid a coronavirus outbreak. Tight indoor quarters—and lack of proper ventilation—in many of these facilities appear to be conducive to the spread of the virus.

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the food supply chain, check out How COVID-19 Is Making The Price of This Food Skyrocket.

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