Kroger to Limit Meat Purchases at Some Locations

The Kroger supermarket chain is starting to limit meat purchases at certain locations as fears grow of a potential meat shortage during the coroanvirus pandemic. The limits were put in place at Ohio stores, while other chains have put limits in place nationwide. On Friday, Costco announced it was limiting fresh meat purchases to three items per member order.

"At Kroger, 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," Kroger said in a statement to the Columbus Dispatch. "There is plenty of protein in the supply chain; however, some processors are experiencing challenges." The policy was enacted in central Ohio stores, as well as stores in the Cincinnati and Dayton area.

As for Costco, the company added its limit policy in new store policy updates on Friday. "Costco has implemented limits on certain items to help ensure more members are able to purchase merchandise they want and need," the company's website reads. "Our buyers and suppliers are working hard to provide essential, high demand merchandise as well as everyday favorites. Fresh meat purchases are temporarily limited to a total of 3 items per member among the beef, pork and poultry products."

The new policies are being put in place as some of the largest meat processors in the country have been forced to close facilities due to the rising number of coronavirus cases among workers. Tyson Foots, Smithfield Foods and JBS USA have closed almost 20 facilities, many of which produce beef and pork products, notes Today. According to Bloomberg, the closures cut about 25 percent of pork-processing and 10 percent beef-processing capacity in the country.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week to keep the meat plants open, citing the Defense Production Act. The move was criticized by unions and activists who said the order will put workers' lives in danger. Tyson has defended keeping as many of the plants open as possible, assuring that safety measures will be taken.

"This pandemic has affected businesses across our nation, in every sector of the economy, regardless of size, service, location, or ownership," Tyson said in a statement to Bloomerg. "It's also affected thousands of farmers and ranchers, whose continued viability is extremely important to us. The safety of our team members is our top priority."

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"We've been screening worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings and conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing," the company added. Tyson is "also implementing social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers and providing more breakroom space," the company said.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 20 deaths from coronavirus linked to meat-processing plants. More than 4,900 workers at meat-processing plants have tested positive for the coronavirus at 115 plants affected by the virus.