Costco limits meat purchases after US plant shutdowns

New York (AFP) –


Big-box retailer Costco is limiting consumer purchases of meat in the wake of shutdowns of US processing plants due to the coronavirus.

Costco, which has about 440 stores in the United States, is limiting purchases to three items among beef, pork and poultry products, the company said on its website.

"Costco has implemented limits on certain items to help ensure more members are able to purchase merchandise they want and need," the company said.

"Our buyers and suppliers are working hard to provide essential, high demand merchandise as well as everyday favorites."

US slaughterhouses have emerged as outbreak hotspots in several states, compelling plant closures, especially for pork and beef. The plants are characterized by crowded workspaces, making social distancing difficult.

Slaughterhouse owners say they have introduced extra sanitation measures to protect workers, including screening tests, temperature checks, face gear and plexiglass shields.

But unions say that management did not take the situation seriously enough and the precautions came too late

At least 18 plants across the United States have been temporarily closed in the last two months.

Noel White, chief executive of US food giant Tyson Foods, said Monday he was unable "to anticipate how long the challenges presented by COVID-19 persist."

During a conference call with analysts, White said the company has shutttered five plants due to coronavirus, adding that the "period of time has varied anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks."