Cargill Ltd. will temporarily shut down its beef plant located in High River, Alberta. The closure comes after more than 350 workers tested positive for COVID-19.
The Canadian subsidiary of the Minneapolis-based multinational agribusiness Cargill said it would suspend operations once it finished processing its meat in order to avoid wasting food.
“Effective today, we have begun the process to temporarily idle Cargill’s High River facility,” the company said in a statement.
It added: “Considering the community-wide impacts of the virus, we encourage all employees to get tested for the COVID-19 virus as now advised by Alberta Health Services as soon as possible.”
Earlier this month, the Fortune 500 company addressed the pandemic on Facebook. “We’re working hard to ensure food remains available during this challenging time while taking added steps to keep our employees safe,” the company said.
Alberta health officials revealed 358 confirmed cases of the coronavirus stemmed from the meat processing plant.
Canada currently has 36,672 confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 12,500 people have recovered and 1,681 people have died as a result of the virus.
Coronavirus Forces Closures of US Slaughterhouses
The coronavirus is not only impacting Canada’s meat industry. The COVID-19 outbreak has also resulted in the closures of a number of U.S. meat processing plants.
Smithfield Food Inc. indefinitely closed its Sioux Falls-based pork plant after 644 people tied to the facility tested positive for the virus. The plant is now the largest coronavirus hotspot in the entire country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a team to the Smithfield plant earlier this week to manage the outbreak.
Smithfield Foods’ president and chief executive officer Kenneth M. Sullivan warned the closures could result in severe meat shortages across the country.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Tyson Foods and National Beef Packing also suspended operations in their Iowa meat-processing plants due to COVID-19.