As a number of meat processing plants have temporarily shuttered operations amid local outbreaks of COVID-19, the head of Tyson warned in a Washington Post advertisement on Sunday that the “food chain is breaking.”
The dire warning comes as states are looking to reopen their economies in the coming weeks in hopes that the spread of the virus has slowed down.
"As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain," Chairman John Tyson wrote in a letter published Sunday. "As a result, there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed."
Tyson has been requiring employees to wear face coverings and submit to a temperature screening before entering plants.
The latest plant to close, near Nashville, had 120 confirmed staff coronavirus cases at the Tyson meat processing plant in Goodlettsvillle, Tennessee. The plant closed over the weekend to undergo a deep cleaning.
Tyson warned that more plants could close amid health concerns.
“At the moment, our other plants remain open and we are working hard to keep store shelves filled, however our facilities are running at reduced levels of production, and any additional shutdowns will further stretch an already strained food supply system—but if it is the right decision to shut down more facilities, we will do so,” Tyson Foods said in a statement.
The plant in Tennessee was the fourth Tyson Meats plant to shutter operations in the last 10 days, joining facilities in Washington, Iowa and Indiana.
Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook .