From the WebMD Archives

May 6, 2020 - Today in the world of coronavirus news –

Wendy’s restaurants in California, South Carolina and Kentucky have removed hamburgers from their menus due to a supply chain shortage, according to the Today show. The changes should be temporary, the company has said.

Restaurants and fast food chains that use fresh beef may face shortages as meat processing plants across the country temporarily close due to the high number of workers infected with the coronavirus. About 5,000 meat and poultry plant workers in 115 processing facilities in 19 states have tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC reported on Friday.

“As you’ve likely read, there have been challenges among protein suppliers across North America,” Heidi Schauer, a Wendy’s spokesperson, told the trade publication Restaurant Business. “We are working closely with our supplier partners and restaurant teams to minimize the impact to our customers and continue to monitor this closely.”

Several meat processing plants have closed, halting about 25% of pork production and 10% of beef production in the country, according to Bloomberg.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that requires meat processing plants to stay open, calling them “critical infrastructure” for the food supply chain.

On a Monday morning call with investors, however, Tyson Foods said pork production capacity has dropped 50%, according to The Washington Post. Three of Tyson’s six main processing facilities in the U.S. are closed, and three others are at reduced capacity. Tyson has closed or reduced operations at beef processing plants as well, the newspaper reported.

Tyson Foods placed full-pages ads in the Post, New York Times and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week that warned the U.S. food supply chain is “breaking.” Chairman John Tyson also wrote a post on the Tyson website on April 26, saying the supply chain is “vulnerable.”

The supply chain issues are occurring elsewhere, too. Kroger has announced it will limit ground beef and poultry purchases in some of its stores, according to CNN. Costco announced Friday that fresh meat purchases are “temporarily limited to a total of three items per member among the beef, pork and poultry products.”

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

Today: “Wendy’s pulls burgers off menu in some locations due to meat shortage.”

CDC MMWR: “COVID-19 Among Workers in Meat and Poultry Processing Facilities — 19 States, April 2020.”

Restaurant Business: “For Some Chains, Supplies of Fresh Ground Beef Shrink, and Prices Soar.”

Bloomberg: “Meat-Shortage Risk Climbs With 25% of U.S. Pork Capacity Offline.”

Executive Order 13917: “Delegating Authority Under the Defense Production Act With Respect to Food Supply Chain Resources During the National Emergency Caused by the Outbreak of COVID-19.”

Washington Post: “Tyson says nation’s pork production is down 50%, despite Trump’s order to keep meat plants open.”

Tyson blog: “Feeding the Nation and Keeping Our Team Members Healthy.”

CNN: “Kroger is limiting ground beef and pork purchases in some stores.”

Costco: “Updates and Coronavirus Response: Product Limitations.”

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