The U.S. is in danger of a meat shortage following closures amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the CEO of a major pork processing company said this week.
Smithfield Foods CEO Kenneth Sullivan issued a statement confirming that the company’s Sioux Falls, SD, facility will be closed until further notice. This comes after USA Today reported that 238 cases of coronavirus were linked to the plant.
Sullivan warned that closures such as this one puts the U.S. in danger of a major meat shortage and also affects farmers’ livelihoods. The plant is responsible for four-to-five percent of U.S. pork production, according to the brand’s statement.
“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.
As NPR pointed out, this is just the latest plant to close in recent weeks as the coronavirus outbreak continues across the country, leading many to fear that meat will be hard to come by in grocery stores.
“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running. 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,” Sullivan said.
It’s important to note that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transferred via food or food packaging, according to the FDA.