Western Kentucky meat processing plants close for cleaning

Published: May. 1, 2020 at 11:09 PM CDT
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According to state officials, 124 employees at Perdue Farms in Ohio County, 74 employees at Tyson Foods in Henderson County, and 22 employees at Specialty Foods Group in Daviess County have tested positive for COVID-19.

Now some of those facilities are having to temporarily shut down in order to deep clean. The latest facility to do so is Specialty Foods Group, LLC.

A company spokesperson says the plant will temporarily close for extensive cleaning on May 3, with plans to reopen on May 11.

14 News got the chance to talk with Chad Martin, the group president of poultry at Tyson Foods. He says the plant suspended operations starting on Thursday, which is expected to go through Sunday.

Martin says having the plant sit idle for a few days allows for deeper cleaning than what takes place on a day-to-day basis. Martin says their top priorities are keeping team members safe, while keeping the country fed at the same time.

“In being able to ensure that we’re protecting our team members and that we’re operating these plants to continue to be able to produce products for food," Martin said. “So we’re working together, we’re in this together, we’re going to get through it together. But the state of the system right now is vulnerable and we’re doing all that we can to alleviate that."

Tyson leaders say they’re also giving employees a “thank you bonus” for front line workers. The company is paying out it’s first set of $500 bonuses in May, with a second set to be paid in July.

14 News reached out to officials at Perdue Farms. Company officials say they have implemented safety measures including face masks, temperature checking, and partitions.

A spokesperson says all of their plants undergo full sanitization every 24 hours.