JBS adds shift to Brooks packing plant

The JBS beef packing plant in Brooks, Alta., returned to operating a second shift May 21, nearly a month after reducing activity to one shift April 22.

An outbreak of COVID-19 among employees reduced the workforce and many were not coming to work for fear of contracting the virus.

As of May 21, there were 10 active cases of COVID-19 among JBS workers and 640 had recovered, according to figures provided by provincial health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Rob Meijer, JBS Canada spokesperson, said the return to two shifts will not increase the number of employees on site at any one time.

“The health and safety of our team is top priority. We have been working closely with public health and labour officials each and every day to implement rigorous risk mitigation practices throughout the facility.”

The company said it has adopted more than 100 preventive measures at the Brooks facility to protect its workers, including regular temperature testing, extra protective equipment, physical partitions on production lines and increased sanitation and disinfection efforts.

The plant is one of two large federally inspected plants in the province. Along with Cargill in High River, the two plants process about 70 percent of the cattle in Canada. JBS continued operations, albeit at

a slower pace, when Cargill shut down for two weeks in late April and early May due to similar outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers.

As of May 21, there were five active cases of the virus among Cargill workers and 943 had recovered, Hinshaw said.

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