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Abbyland Foods taking COVID-19 precautions

With several meat-packing facilities across the Midwest having to shut down due to outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus, questions have been raised locally about the precautions being taken by Abbyland Foods.

Paul Hess at Abbyland said the company is following CDC guidelines for its workforce — which includes approximately 750 employees at the facilities in Abbotsford and about 275 employees who work at Abbyland Pork Pack in Curtiss.

“All employees must wear a mask while in the plant with only minor exceptions,” he said.

“As far as social distancing is concerned, we have reviewed work stations and, where possible, have implemented staggering the positions to reduce employees working directly across from or next to each other. However, this is not possible in many of the process lines.”

Hess said they have also changed their break schedule to reduce the number of employees in the break room and restroom area at the same time.

“We have also cancelled all non-essential visits to the plant,” he said. “The only individuals that are allowed in the plant are those required to keep the operations functioning, delivering supplies or providing service to our equipment and facilities.”

Hess said employees are already required to wash their hands multiple times each day as part of normal operations, and the company has also provided hand sanitizer.

“Because we are a federally inspected meat facility, we are required to clean and sanitize the plant from top to bottom at least once each day,” he said. “We also have employees who are cleaning the frequently touched areas on a regular basis. This would include door knobs, time clocks, break tables, microwaves and vending machines to name a few.”

Abbyland’s employees are also receiving extra training regarding COVID-19 “best practices,” Hess said, including multiple written postings, video presentations and a safety chat with their supervisor.

Empoyees are encouraged to remain at home if they are not feeling well, and the company has also relaxed its attendance policy during this time, he said.

“Our workers also have access to the Astia near-site clinic located in the old Shopko Plaza for their health consultation needs,” he said. “Astia is able to provide COVID-19 testing if deemed necessary by the health care workers.”