Meat Processors Failed To Provide PPEs to Employees


The nation’s three largest meat processors failed to provide employees with the proper safety equipment as cases of COVID-19 spread through their plants.

The Washington Post reports that Tyson Foods, JBS USA, and Smithfield Foods did not provide protective gear to all workers, and some employees say they were told to continue working in crowded plants even while sick. These actions continued after the March 9th federal guidelines on PPEs and social distancing were issued.

According to the Washington Post, JBS confirmed that it did not receive masks for its employees until April 2 and did not mandate their use until April 13. Tyson said it wasn’t until April 15 that it started requiring that all its workers wear masks. Smithfield said masks are universally available to its workers, in compliance with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the company would not say exactly when they became available. Smithfield workers said it wasn’t until the past week or two.

JBS, Smithfield, and Tyson all defended their efforts to protect their employees from the coronavirus. Smithfield and Tyson said they started taking preventive action in February, including educating workers about COVID-19 while JBS said it took action in mid-March.

Over the past several weeks Tyson, JBS and Smithfield have closed 15 plants and industry analysts say production is down by at least 25%. JBS is planning to reopen its Colorado plant after a two-week disinfection process.