Meat packaging plants account for 334,000 COVID cases in the U.S.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021 (HealthDay News)-According to a new study, meat processing plants are the source of an estimated 334,000 COVID-19 cases in the United States. It estimates the economic losses caused by these cases at 11.2 billion U.S. dollars.

Tina Saitone, an extension expert for the Livestock and Ranch Economics Cooperative at the University of California, Davis, said these numbers are conservative.

The study included US counties with large meat packaging factories that produce more than 10 million pounds a month. Researchers checked for infection within 150 days after the first recorded COVID case in each county.

The study showed that beef and pork processing plants more than doubled the infection rate in their county, while chicken processing plants increased the infection rate by 20%.

The researchers explained why they believe the true number may be higher, and pointed out that they are concerned about the infection rate in the meat packaging factory county, and did not consider the cases that may be contracted at the meat packaging factory but spread to other counties.

Saito said in a university press release: “Similarly, our research may have underestimated the real economic loss.”

Although the study assessed wage losses and deaths, it did not include long-term health care costs or worker safety measures.

Seton said: “Although we did see an initial increase in cases in meat packaging facilities, over time the infection rate per capita was the same as that in counties without meat packaging, partly due to the implementation of meat packaging facilities. A lot of agreements to protect employees,”

COVID Pandemic Lead to large-scale disruptions in the food supply chain. Researchers point out that some critics say that smaller, more geographically distributed industries will make them less likely to be affected by the pandemic.

They pointed out that this change will increase costs and increase food prices.

Instead, economists believe that the meat packaging industry can study automation and technological innovation to make the poultry industry more resilient to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results were recently published online in a magazine Food policy.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Meat/poultry plants and COVID-19.

Source: University of California, Davis, press release, April 15, 2021



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