481 Tyson Foods Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

Tyson Foods is looking into reports that China’s customs agency has suspended poultry imports from a Tyson facility in the United States after coronavirus cases were confirmed among its employees.

A Tyson spokesman said Sunday that the plant in question is in Springdale, Arkansas.

“At Tyson, our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we work closely with the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to ensure that we produce all of our food in full compliance with government safety requirements,” wrote spokesman Gary Mickelson in an email to The Associated Press.

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He added that all global and U.S. health organizations agree that there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.

The announcement out of China on Sunday gave no details of the quantity of meat affected.

On Friday, Tyson Foods announced the results of coronavirus testing at its facilities in Arkansas’ Benton and Washington counties,  and said that a majority of employees who ultimately tested positive for the virus didn’t show any symptoms.

Of the 3,748 employees tested, 481 tested positive for coronavirus infection, and 455 were asymptomatic.

On June 11, Tyson announced that 199 employees tested positive out of 1,102 employees, adding that only one of the employees who tested positive showed symptoms.

The other 198 individuals who tested positive did not show any symptoms, according to Tyson.

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Those cases were in addition to the 48 positive cases identified at the same facility by the Arkansas Department of Health or when seeking care through their own health care providers.

There have been several other COVID-19 outbreaks at Tyson plants around the United States, including in North Carolina, Nebraska, and Iowa.

In November, China lifted a five-year ban on U.S. poultry.

China had blocked U.S. poultry imports a month after an outbreak of avian influenza in December 2014, closing off a market that brought more than $500 million worth of American chicken, turkey and other poultry products in 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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