In 2021, OSHA released COVID safety guidelines for meat plants and other food processing facilities — but stopped short of making them mandatory. The agency recommends using certain safety measures, such as face coverings and paid time off for employees to receive vaccinations. However, it does not require employers to follow these rules or produce written hazard analyses or safety plans.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives, as well as virtually every industry on Earth. For starters, we’ve seen numerous disruptions to the food supply chain, in addition to increased reports of contaminated meat and poor working conditions in factory farms.
When COVID-19 struck the global economy, it did particular damage to the food industry. Many restaurants were forced to close. Those that survived had to quickly adopt technological systems and practices that allowed for continued business.
California’s workplace safety regulator has cited a frozen food manufacturer and its temporary employment agency for failing to protect hundreds of employees from the coronavirus at two Los Angeles area plants.
The number one question on the mind of business leaders today is how to keep their employees safe. When you work for an agriculture company that is part of the world’s critical food infrastructure, that question becomes even more important. In addition to worrying about productivity, profitability and business continuity, you must also be cognizant of the impact that any disruption could have on the global food supply.
“The USDA is letting the wolf guard the hog-house”
January 14, 2020
Several food safety advocacy organizations have filed a legal action against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for issuing New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rules that that they say undermine pork-safety inspection in slaughter plants. Food & Water Watch and the Center for Food Safety are calling the new NSIS rules “a draconian reversal to the swine slaughter inspection system that has existed in the United States since 1906, which required meat inspectors to examine each animal before and after slaughter.”
The CDC says it has not yet determined the source of an outbreak of E. coli that has so far sickened people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Washington and Wisconsin. The CDC is coordinating with public health and regulatory officials in those states, along with the FDA, in its investigation into the outbreak.
Next time you think about getting a burger or some other meat-containing meal from Burger King, Arby’s, Olive Garden, Domino’s pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings, Starbucks or Applebees, you may want to consult a recent report that gave those restaurant chains an “F” for using beef that contains large amounts of antibiotics.