Cargill to shut Montreal-area meat plant temporarily

Company says 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19

Ottawa | Reuters — The Canadian arm of U.S. agribusiness Cargill said Sunday it would soon temporarily shut a Montreal-area case-ready meat plant after 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

The plant is at Chambly, a South Shore suburb of Montreal, one of the worst hit cities in Canada. Cargill said it was winding down production and hoped the facility would be fully closed by the middle of the week so all employees could be tested.

“We are concerned about the number of cases in the community and among our employees. We currently have 64 cases, which is 13 per cent of our local workforce,” company spokesman Daniel Sullivan said in an email.

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The Chambly plant, which Cargill built new in 2002, is a federally-inspected boning, cutting and further-processing facility, approved to handle red meat and poultry and to export to the United States.

Cargill said in late April it would start to reopen its beef processing plant in High River, Alta. after it was forced to close down because hundreds of workers had become infected with the coronavirus.

The High River plant’s harvest department — which handles cattle slaughter operations — restarted May 4 with two shifts, to be followed by fabrication shifts starting May 6, Sullivan said in a May 4 email.

According to Alberta provincial health officials on Sunday, there are 58 active cases of COVID-19 among workers at the High River plant, while another 893 are deemed to have recovered.

The High River plant, which Cargill put up in 1989, represents about 36 per cent of Canada’s total beef processing capacity.

— Reporting for Reuters by David Ljunggren; includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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