Following an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure the continued supply of meat and poultry, twenty state attorneys general have submitted a letter urging President Trump to strengthen guidance for meatpacking facilities by requiring increased access to testing and personal protective equipment, implementation of physical distancing where possible, suspension of line speed waivers, and paid leave for workers in isolation or quarantine following exposure to COVID-19. “The industry’s failure to act earlier to protect its labor force, and the Administration’s lack of leadership and support for testing, procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), and enforcement of federal worker safety standards, will be among the many regrettable lapses contributing to the tragic story of America’s experience with this pandemic,” the letter asserts.

The letter calls for voluntary guidance provided to meatpacking facilities to become mandatory. “Even if these recommendations were sufficient to maintain worker safety, however, they are entirely voluntary. Without making these standards mandatory and taking decisive action to enforce them, the Administration will fail in its duty to provide meaningful protection to workers that have been deemed essential to maintaining our food supply.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.