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The U.S. May Run Out of Meat, Warns Nation's Largest Pork Producer

Coronavirus is shutting down processing plants, which will likely disrupt grocery supplies.
smithfield bacon

The nation's largest producer of pork products revealed on Easter Sunday plans to shut down its Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant indefinitely due to an outbreak of the coronavirus amongst its workers. As a result, Smithfield Foods is warning the general public that the U.S. is inching toward a scary meat shortage. And soon.

Smithfield announced in a company press release that 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," CEO and President Kenneth M. Sullivan is quoted in the announcement. "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."

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The coronavirus outbreak has put a very dangerous stress on essential institutions and workers in healthcare, first response, and grocery store employees. Overlooked, however, are the workers at food processing plants from which the products on grocery store shelves originate.

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It's not just the shutting down of slaughterhouses and meat processing plants that are disrupting the U.S. food supply chain. Dairy farmers have also sent warning signals about serious chinks in the supply chain that is leading them to dispose of unsold milk and other dairy products that are spoiling.

Sullivan noted that Smithfield Foods have continued to run their facilities for one reason: "to sustain our nation's food supply during this pandemic." He added, "We believe it is our obligation to help feed the country, now more than ever."

"We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19," Sullivan concluded.

Smithfield foods noted at the end of their press release that "According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. More information on Smithfield's COVID-19 response can be found here."

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Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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