Measures put in place to protect Alberta's meat packing plants

May 7 2020, 12:53 pm

Alberta has announced new protections for the province’s meat packing facilities.

Following three large outbreaks at the Cargill plant in High River, the JBS plant in Brooks, and the Harmony Beef plant in Balzac, the provincial government has issued a release detailing the safety measures that have been put into place at these facilities and others like them.

The measures are being required by Alberta Health Services, Occupational Health and Safety, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who have been visiting facilities regularly to ensure that these measures are being implemented.

According to the release, meat processing facilities in Alberta will need to check the temperatures of staff before they enter the facility, provide face masks and other PPE to employees, enhance cleaning and sanitation, stagger breaks and shift flexibility, prohibit unnecessary visitors, increase distance between employees, install screens between employee stations, and limit vehicles entering the facility to a maximum of two passengers.

Other measures include the installation of physical barriers throughout the facility, a reconfiguration of lunchrooms and lockers, the installation of more sinks and sanitation stations, a reconfiguration of entrances, and updated training measures that include Public Health Act requirements.

The province has also announced that it is providing testing and medical supplies to anyone in need, as well as opening assessment centres in High River and Brooks, which are open to all workers — even those without any coronavirus symptoms.

Alberta has a total of nearly 200 meat slaughter facilities in Alberta.

Of the 1,550 cases detected at Alberta’s three meat packing plant outbreaks, 1,354 have recovered.

The release notes that coronavirus is not a food-borne illness.