Maple Leaf Foods plant shuts down after three employees test positive for COVID-19
A Maple Leaf Foods employee walks past a Maple Leaf sign at the company's meat facility in Toronto on Monday, December, 15, 2008. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
TORONTO -- A major poultry plant in Brampton, Ont. has suspended operations after three people working at the facility tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement issued late Wednesday morning, Maple Leaf Foods said that the decision to shut down the facility was made “out of an abundance of caution.”
"As a major food company in an essential industry, Maple Leaf Foods is doing everything possible to protect the health of our 13,000 team members while producing the food our customers in North America and Asia need now more than ever,” the company said.
“Our first priority is to keep our people safe so the decision was made to shut down the facility, pending a full risk assessment.”
No further information has been released about the three employees who have been diagnosed with the virus and when they last worked at the facility.
Maple Leaf Foods said they will be conducting a deep cleaning of the plant, including common areas and offices, while an investigation into the COVID-19 cases takes place.
“We will not begin operating again until we are confident that it is safe to return to work,” they said.
An additional COVID-19 case was also confirmed at Maple Leaf Foods Heritage plant in Hamilton, Ont. The company said the worker had not been at the plant for two weeks before the diagnosis.
“We've completed thorough sanitation at Heritage and the plant is fully operating.”
In their statement, Maple Leaf Foods said they have been taking numerous steps to ensure the safety of their employees, including increased sanitation of common areas, social distancing, and the staggering of breaks and shifts to prevent crowding. The company has also converted offices into break rooms and are phasing in temperature screening of front-line employees.
“This is a very fluid situation and our teams are working very closely within our network, as well as with our supply chain and logistics partners so that we can continue to deliver safe food at this critical time,” they said.
“This is truly an unprecedented period for our company and the entire food industry. Maple Leaf Foods takes our responsibility to feed people seriously every day of the year. You have my personal assurance that we stand with our 13,000 team members and with our customers in getting through this difficult crisis."