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Washington, Apr 29 (Canadian-Media): Concerned about food shortages and supply chain disruptions, an executive order was issued by the U.S. President Donald Trump by use of the Defense Production Act which mandated meat-processing plants continue to function, media reports said.
Donald Trump. Image credit: Facebook page
Trump's order received criticism by unions regarding the safety of the workers from coronavirus outbreaks.
Operations had halted at about 20 slaughterhouses and processing plants in North America in the world's biggest meat companies, including Smithfield Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., JBS USA and Tyson, as workers fall ill raising global fears of a meat shortage.
The U.S. government would also provide guidance, said a senior administration official, to minimize risk to workers who are especially vulnerable to the virus, such as encouraging older workers and those with other chronic health issues to stay home.
Provision of the highest level of protective equipment to slaughterhouse workers and coronavirus testing on daily basis by the meat companies was demanded by UFCW, the largest U.S. meat-packing union.
More than 6,500 U.S. meat and food-processing workers had been infected with or exposed to the new coronavirus, and 20 have died, the UFCW said on Tuesday.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said that the plants were being shut down for deep cleaning and to save workers' lives and added,
"If the administration had developed meaningful safety requirements early on as they should have and still must do, this would not even have become an issue."