Three manufacturing plants in the Richmond area that produce food products have had employees test positive for the coronavirus, but the factories continue to operate.
Sabra Dipping Co., a maker of hummus with a production plant in Chesterfield County, confirmed Friday that it has had positive cases among employees. The company said in a statement that “fewer than 10 of our employees have tested positive.”
Maruchan Virginia Inc., a maker of ramen noodles with a factory on Whitepine Road in Chesterfield, also confirmed that seven people who work at the plant tested positive for COVID-19.
Tyson Foods Inc. also has had positive cases at its poultry processing plant on Mountain Road in western Hanover County. The company said in a statement that “some team members” have tested positive but did not give a specific number.
All three of the companies said they are taking steps such as regular deep cleaning and sanitizing to prevent further spread. Citing privacy, the companies did not disclose information on the health conditions of affected employees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the coronavirus typically is spread person-to-person and there is no evidence to support transmission through groceries and food products.
“We are fully committed to and hyper-focused on ensuring the safety of our site so the team may continue to produce food for the American people,” Sabra Dipping Co. said in a statement.
Sabra, based in White Plains, N.Y., opened its factory in the Ruffin Mill Industrial Park in 2010 and has expanded it several times.
Sabra said it has taken a number of steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including moving employees who can work from home off site; providing employees with protective gear, including face masks; adjusting shift schedules for production workers to support social distancing; and doing temperature checks for employees before they enter the site.
Maruchan, a subsidiary of the Japanese company Toyo Suisan Kaisha Ltd., opened the local plant in 1989 and also has expanded it several times.
“Following the discovery of the infections, we conducted a deep cleaning based on CDC guidelines,” the company said. “We will continue to enforce safety and sanitization precautions above and beyond what has been outlined by the CDC and the health department, and, as of now the plant is in operation.”
Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, one of the nation’s largest meat producers, has had to suspend operations at several plants across the country at various times during the pandemic after employees tested positive.
The company said it has taken steps such as doing health screenings and temperature checks of employees arriving at plants, installing hand sanitizer stations, requiring employees to wear masks, and providing face shields in situations where 6-foot distancing or barriers are not feasible.
“Our plant production areas are sanitized daily to ensure food safety, and we have stepped up deep cleaning and sanitizing of our facilities, especially in employee break rooms, locker rooms and other areas to protect our team members,” the company said. “We have team members dedicated to constantly wiping down and sanitizing common areas. In some cases, this additional cleaning involves suspending a day of production.”