OSHA fines JBS beef plant in Colorado for failing to protect employees from virus

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a second large meat production company for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus.

Nearly 300 JBS employees in Greeley, CO, were infected with the COVID-19 virus since March and seven died. Six worked in the beef plant and a seventh was assigned to theJBS USA corporate headquarters located nearby.

OSHA has proposed $15,615 in penalties for the JBS  beef plant in Greeley, CO.    Earlier it imposed a similar fine for the Smithfield Foods meat plant in Sioux Falls, SD.

JBS USA, which operates as Swift Beef Co., took sharp exception to the federal agency’s findings, saying in a statement  that “the OSHA citation is entirely without merit.”

“It attempts to impose a standard that did not exist in March as we fought the pandemic with no guidance,” the company said. “When OSHA finally provided … Read more

Industry can find FSA ‘frustrating and inconsistent’

Negative terms most commonly used to describe the Food Standards Agency (FSA) were “frustrating, challenging and inconsistent”, according to a survey.

The research was done because the FSA wanted to know how businesses in the meat, wine and dairy sectors in England and Wales viewed the agency and its official controls.

In February and March 2020, 54 qualitative interviews were conducted with meat and wine firms and 327 quantitative interviews with meat, wine and dairy businesses. A financial incentive was given to all companies who took part.

Sector differences
No wine operators said they were dissatisfied with their experiences of the FSA’s processes, but some meat firms had criticisms about enforcement.

Most rated their experience of working with the FSA as very good (29 percent) or good (44 percent), with a quarter saying it was average. Only 2 percent said it was poor and 1 percent very poor.

Almost half … Read more

Smithfield appeals OSHA fine for not protecting meat plant employees from COVID-19

 The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. in Sioux Falls, SD, for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA proposed a penalty of $13,494, the maximum allowed by law.

Based in Smithfield, VA, Smithfield Foods Inc. will appeal the fine, which spokeswoman Keira Lombardo said is “wholly without merit” because the company took”extraordinary measures” to protect employees from the COVID-19 virus. And during the pandemic, Smithfield took direction from OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

But OSHA claims not enough was done to protect Smithfield employees at the Sioux Falls plant, which accounts for about 5 percent of the nation’s pork production. That production was lost during a three-week shutdown. Meat and poultry plants were put under the Defense Production Act on April 28, giving USDA extraordinary powers … Read more

Experts affirm that coronavirus is ‘highly unlikely’ to be food risk

It is highly unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 is a food safety risk, according to an international group of scientists.

The International Commission for Microbiological Specifications of Foods (ICMSF) is a non-governmental organization and an observer to Codex Alimentarius. The chair is Martin Cole and members include Darrell W. Donahue and Lucia Anelich, as well as consultants Robert Buchanan and Jeffrey M. Farber.

The opinion covers the coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes an illness called COVID-19. ICMSF shared technical and scientific insights it considered relevant for professionals in and along the food supply chain and governments overseeing food safety.

The ICMSF members believe it is highly unlikely that ingestion of SARS-CoV-2 will result in illness because there is no documented evidence that food is a significant source and/or vehicle for transmission. It is vital that one differentiates a hazard from a risk, i.e., the presence of an infectious agent on … Read more

USDA puts inspectors on egg “patrol” and gives egg producers more flexibility

Federal egg inspections are getting an update for the first time in 50 years, according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The new egg inspection rule will take effect at 83 USDA-inspected eggplants as soon it is published in the Federal Register.

Egg producers, under the new rule, will be able to use food safety procedures designed to accommodate their specific plant and equipment.

The change by the Trump administration is intended to help egg producers recover from the losses they experienced during the pandemic. Food safety might be eroded by the change, according to consumer advocates.

Production of egg substitutes, which previously were regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will now fall under USDA oversight.FSIS inspectors will make one visit during each shift rather than being on-site whenever eggs are being processed.

The egg inspection changes are part of the FSIS modernization program already implemented

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