What Perdue Farms Did When a Food Processing Plant Employee Got Sick With Coronavirus

Perdue Farms learned that an associate at their Perry, Georgia Further Processing Plant, who has not been to work for more than a week, has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), reported the poultry and pork meat processing company.

According to the company, upon receiving this notification, they immediately enacted its pandemic response protocols, which follow strict guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including:

  • Notifying and coordinating response procedures with all pertinent parties (local health officials, onsite USDA inspector, Perdue HR and Wellness Staff, Coronavirus Response Leader, and facility Director of Operations);
  • Interviewing the affected associate to determine movements and contact with others at the processing plant;
  • Checking recordings from internal cameras to see who the Associate may have been in close contact with (within six feet and longer than 10 minutes);
  • Thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the entire processing plant beyond the full sanitation that all of the company’s facilities undergo every 24 hours, and with additional sanitization conducted in areas accessed by the affected associate during the prior 14 days. These procedures strictly follow the CDC guidelines for this process;
  • Notifying associates who were potentially exposed to the affected processing plant worker and providing them with guidance for conducting a risk assessment of their potential exposure using CDC guidelines.

Related Article: News About the Coronavirus and the Food and Beverage Industry

The affected processing plant associate is in quarantine for 14 days while still receiving pay and no attendance penalty and may return to work when approved to do so by a healthcare provider, said Perdue Farms last Saturday, March 28th.

“Our greatest concern is for the health and safety of our associates,” said Perdue Farms Chairman Jim Perdue. “We are committed to supporting them as they remain dedicated to their roles as essential personnel during this uncharted time.”

The company is continuing the incremental preventative measures at all of its facilities that were implemented in early March to protect the health of associates, including increased sanitation and cleaning (above and beyond the full sanitization that all facilities receive every 24 hours), and extended the hours of many of the onsite Wellness Centers at facilities, which are available to all associates and their families free of charge.

Additionally, Perdue Farms is implementing temperature checking across all facilities and reminding associates to follow the CDC guidelines for proper hygiene.

Per the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is not known to be a food-borne pathogen and, “because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that is shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”

Perdue Farms continues to regulate strict preventive safety and sanitation standards in all its facilities. All Perdue products continue to be USDA inspected and made with the highest standards of safety and quality, stated the company.