Perdue Farms hosted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for meetings and tours of Perdue's poultry processing facility in Salisbury, Md.
In early May, Perdue's operations management and nurses from the facility's onsite Wellness Center met with a team of health experts from the CDC to share a presentation on the new safety efforts Perdue has implemented following CDC and OSHA guidance, provide comprehensive tours of the facility to show these efforts in practice, and discuss COVID-19 case data and contact tracing, as well as worker testing.
Following these tours, the CDC shared a memo summarizing their visit and highlighting best practices that Perdue had already implemented, including:
- Health and safety:
- Temperature checking as a requirement to enter the facility;
- Proper mask wearing;
- Social distancing where possible, such as restrooms, break rooms, locker rooms, the cafeteria, and offices;
- And installation of easily cleaned partitions between associates on the production line where adequate social distancing is not possible.
- Extensive cleaning measures:
- Hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the facility;
- Automatic sinks in the bathrooms for handwashing;
- Knee-pedal handwashing station associates are required to use each time they enter the processing floor;
- Additional staff continuously cleans and sanitizes commonly touched surfaces during the two processing shifts;
- And an external cleaning contractor thoroughly cleans and disinfects all plant spaces each weekend, except the processing space, which is sanitized by a separate contractor every 24 hours.
- Associate and community education:
- Translating informational and educational materials into the primary languages spoken among the workforce: English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole;
- Displaying various CDC messages related to COVID-19 on posters and rotated on video monitors in common areas;
- And hosting virtual Town Hall-style webinars at locations where Perdue has production operations, including Salisbury, to further facilitate an ongoing dialogue regarding COVID-19 with various local community leaders including pastors, healthcare professionals, elected officials, civic organizations, and more, to help reinforce the importance of social distancing, face covering use, and handwashing, as well as to educate about signs, symptoms, and disease transmission at home and in the community when away from work.
"At Perdue, our associates have always been and will always be our first priority. To protect our colleagues, we responded swiftly to the threat of COVID-19 and had already implemented many safety measures following CDC/OSHA interim guidance beginning in early March," said Kevin Dennis, Director of Operations at Perdue Farms' Salisbury, Maryland facility. "As we continue to seek additional ways to protect our associates during COVID-19, we welcomed the CDC's visit, appreciated their support, and were pleased with their findings that we had already gone above and beyond expectations to protect our associates, including testing everyone at our Salisbury facility on May 7th. While county and state health officials expected these test results to be around 20%, the actual results clearly show our efforts to protect our associates are working, with positive cases in our facility around 4%, which is lower than the rate of cases in the county."
"The CDC also gave us some minor, helpful suggestions to provide additional safety to our people, which we began implementing right away," added Dennis. "The CDC team who visited us was tremendously professional and it was evident they share our goal of keeping our associates as safe as possible while they're in our care."
The suggestions provided by the CDC to further bolster Perdue's existing safety efforts include:
- Conducting periodic worksite assessments to identify COVID-19 risk and prevention strategies;
- Continuing to provide specific and relevant training to management and associates on infection control, available in the three primary native languages spoken at the facility;
- Ensuring continuation of proper hand hygiene practices;
- Removing all fans from processing floor and consulting with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning engineer to ensure adequate ventilation in work areas;
- Encouraging single-file movement with six-foot distance between each worker throughout facility, particularly at the main entrance;
- Discouraging carpooling when possible, and provide guidance on how to minimize risk when carpooling is necessary;
- And disinfection protocols if an associate becomes ill during work.
Additionally, Perdue hosted the CDC at its Accomac, Virginia and Georgetown and Milford, Delaware facilities for similar tours, and will share those reports when available.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service continues to inspect all Perdue Farms products, which are made with the highest standards of safety and quality, as well as the company's production facilities, which are fully sanitized every 24 hours at minimum.
For current updates on Perdue Farms' COVID-19 response, click here.
Source: Perdue Farms