At California’s Farmer John Food Processing Plant, 153 Employees Have Tested Positive For COVID-19

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Getty Smithfield has locations all across the country.

The Public Health Department of Los Angeles County reported that 153 of 1,837 employees at the Farmer John meat-processing plant have tested positive for coronavirus as cases have spiked there and at eight other facilities in Vernon, Califonia.

According to a news release from the health department, 41 of the 153 Farmer John employees have returned to the plant. The release stated that results were from March to May and the eight affected plants include CLW, Via De France Yamazaki Inc., Cal Farms Meat Company, Takaokaya USA Inc., F. Gavina & Sons Inc., Golden West Trading, Overhill Farms, and Rose and Shore.

The Virginia-based company Smithfield Foods, which owns Farmer John, is famous for producing the Dodger Dog, a 10-inch pork weiner which is named after the Los Angeles Dodger stadium where it is sold, Eater Los Angeles reported.

“It is unclear if the rise in cases is due to additional testing or to spread amongst workers,” the release stated. “Companies are required to report any COVID-19 cases to the City of Vernon and all positive cases are reported to Public Health.”

“We are closely monitoring outbreaks within facilities in the City of Vernon, as many of the employees reside in adjacent Southeast Los Angeles communities,” L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said, local news station KTLA-5 reported.

Other Smithfield plants have reported large numbers of coronavirus cases. According to Bladen Journal, the Smithfield Foods plant located in Tar Heel was “one of 27 in North Carolina contributing to roughly 2,000 cases of the coronavirus” in the state. A plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota also reported large numbers of cases.

Smithfield Has Said It Has Implemented Strong Safety Measures

Protecting Our Smithfield FamilyFrom installing plexiglass barriers to increased social distancing and boosted PPE, we are working hard to keep our people safe. Learn more here:


Freddie Agyin, Vernon’s director of health and environmental control, said they first discovered six cases clustered in the ham deboning department, which led to Smithfield Foods installing safety measures for coronavirus prevention, Eater Los Angeles reported.

Smithfield Foods has said that it has installed plexiglass barriers at its production lines, temperature scanning and free testing for employees at all of its facilities nationwide. The company also said that it was providing head, face, hand and body protective equipment for all employees that handle food.

The company also said that it was sanitizing its facilities regularly and marking six feet of social distance where applicable.

A South Dakota Smithfield Plant Also Experienced An Outbreak in April

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GettyThe Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Smithfield temporarily closed its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls after health officials said that 293 of the 730 people diagnosed with coronavirus worked at the plant and six had died as of April 13, local news station ABC-7 reported.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and the mayor of Sioux Falls had both wrote to the company asking it to suspend operations for 14 days to disinfect plants, according to ABC-7.

The company had announced a three-day closure last week in early April but announced an indefinite closure that lasted until May 7, Reuters reported.

Smithfield said that the Sioux Falls facility supplies 130 million servings of food per week, ABC-7 reported.

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