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Supply Chain News: Sausage Maker Premio Foods Details Steps to Keep Customers and Workers Safe from Virus


Bloomberg Reports Food Manufacurers Seeing Increased Absenteeism and Worker Concerns about Safety

April 7, 2020
SCDigest Editorial Staff

US food manufacture of course must have high levels of cleanliness and contaminant control, not only to protect their customers from food-borne sicknesses, and but also frankly to protects their own brands from the devastating impact that comes from product recalls or news about consumers becoming sick from eating tainted products.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

The article said there are reports of increased absenteeism and that some front line workers have even walked off the job in food manufacturing.

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Now, the coronavirus crisis has upped the ante, not only to protect consumers but also to keep workers from becoming infected, a situation that could lead to a wide outbreak across critical manufacturing workers or even forcing a food factory to close down.

Last week, the web site of National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) published some of the steps New Jersey-based Premio Foods is taking to further safeguard its operations in the face of the virus threat.

Premio makes specialty Italian sausage products and has about 1000 employees.

"We've stepped up expectations about changing out protective clothing and gloves, so that people cycle through them more quickly," says Premio Foods senior vice president of operations Eric Fidoten.

He adds that "We have our employees sanitize their hands, then sanitize the glove itself - and do all this more frequently than usual. We instructed people to cover their entire head except eyes and forehead. Where we don't mandate safety glasses, we now encourage our associates to use them."

Fidoten also says the company has held meetings to demonstrate proper procedures and conducted "audits" throughout the day to check that employees are thoroughly protected.

It has also instituted rotating breaks and lunches to reduce large gatherings at its facilities and is ensuring high-use surfaces in breakrooms and lunch areas are frequently sanitized.

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Premio Foods also recommends that other businesses and organizations work to step up their responses as well. They can do that by taking steps such as contacting a sanitation consulting company for a tailored sanitation plan, restricting vendors and other visitors from entering the facility and offering a brief how-to on sanitation procedures to any necessary visitors.

However, the standard measures are the most important and achievable by anyone: frequent handwashing, eliminating physical contact at work and observing social distancing, sanitizing frequently-used surfaces and rooms, and ensuring that anyone who shows signs of illness stays home.

The stakes in the food industry are high indeed.

A Bloomberg article last week noted said that "A growing number of workers who are crucial to supplying the world with meat are demanding that their companies do more to keep them safe from the coronavirus."

The article said there are reports of increased absenteeism and that some front line workers have even walked off the job. "That's raising the specter of mass protests that could threaten global meat supplies just as supply chains unravel and grocery stores struggle to keep food on their shelves."

SCDigest is calling all this "the thin supply chain line.

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