Cargill food processing company among several companies to have employees contract COVID-19

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Two Valley food production facilities are dealing with cases of the coronavirus. Cargill, a food processing company in Fresno, is among the latest in the Central Valley to confirm an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

But they are remaining open. In a statement release on Wednesday, Cargill’s spokesperson says, “Our focus is protecting the health of our employees and preventing the spread of the virus.”

Cargill is working closely with local health officials to ensure appropriate prevention, testing, cleaning, and quarantine protocols are followed within the facilities.

But other food processing plants are shutting down. In Kentucky at Tyson, production came to a halt after dozens of their employees tested positive. 

Here in the Valley a similar situation at Ruiz Foods. On Tuesday, they confirmed they temporarily closed several production lines in its Dinuba and Tulare facilities to keep employees safe after several tested positive for the virus.

In a statement released by Stephen Coale, Senior Vice President Supply Chain, Ruiz Foods, he says in-part, “Despite our focused efforts to keep our Team Members safe, a high incidence of community spread has resulted in our decision to temporarily halt production.”

The closures are leaving many to wonder how the meat and poultry industry will move forward.

“Since the beginning we’ve been concerned about COVID spreading throughout the agriculture community, we are operating because of essential nature of what we do here and now to see these recent episodes is a concern,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

He says harvest season for the animals is time sensitive. 

“You’re talking about a very short window where these animals can be processed, so here locally I think there’s been a lot of precaution to try and stay on the front side of this,” he said.

Jacobsen does not believe we will see a shortage any time soon.

“I do expect that nationwide there may be some temporarily blimps but overall I think we should see it fairly strong,” he said.

Health and food experts say meat and processed foods are still perfectly safe to consume. There have been no reports from the CDC or the FDA stating otherwise.

Jacobsen says the next crops in the Ag industry that they are looking at are fruits and vegetables. He says they are still about three weeks out for the season but says they have been working to get ahead implementing safety precautions.

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