As the coronavirus threatens the nation’s meat suppliers, the grocery chain told CNN it would place purchasing limits on ground beef and fresh pork in some stores.
“We feel good about our ability to maintain a broad assortment of meat and seafood for our customers because we purchase protein from a diverse network of suppliers,” a Kroger representative told CNN. “There is plenty of protein in the supply chain. However, some processors are experiencing challenges.”
Meat suppliers have had to close down in recent weeks as COVID-19 outbreaks flared in their facilities.
Last week, the largest U.S. meat-packing union said more than 5,000 US meat and food-processing workers have been infected with or exposed to the coronavirus, while at least another 20 have died, their union said.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) warned that the nation’s meat supply could be jeopardized by the pandemic unless the federal government took measures to improve safety at crowded facilities.
The outbreaks have resulted in a 25 percent drop in pork slaughter capacity and a 10 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity, the union said.
President Trump on Tuesday invoked the Defense Production Act to mandate that meat plants stay open during the pandemic and signed an order to protect companies from liability should workers fall ill.
But even under the order plants have struggled to keep open, CNN reported.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone penned a letter to every state’s governor Wednesday desperately pleading they enforce CDC guidelines at production factories.
“For us, this issue has nothing to do with politics, or whether these workers are union or non-union, but reflects our sincere fear that urgent and mandatory action is needed to protect these workers, the communities they serve, and our nation’s food supply,” Perrone wrote.