Tyson Foods Releases Results from COVID-19 Testing at Storm Lake Plant

Tyson Foods ( Brazil-based Marfrig, the world's second largest beef processor, sells Keystone, the largest supplier of McDonald's chicken nuggets. )

Tyson Foods, Inc. announced results of facility-wide testing for COVID-19 at its Storm Lake, Iowa pork facility, on Tuesday. Of the 2,303 team members who work at the facility and were tested, 591 tested positive, more than 75% of whom did not show any symptoms and otherwise would not have been identified.

Limited production resumes on Wednesday at the Tyson Foods pork processing facility in Storm Lake, Iowa, following a temporary halt for additional deep cleaning and sanitizing, the company said in a release

“The total comprises 58 individuals who were tested by the Department of Health or when seeking care through their own health care providers and an additional 533 who were tested onsite from May 18 to May 21,” Tyson said in a release. 

Team members who test positive received paid leave and will be able to return to work only when they have met the criteria established by both the CDC and Tyson. So far, 186 of the team members who tested positive have been through their required absence and have now returned to work, the company explained.

“We are thankful for the efforts of Tyson Foods’ management and team members to ensure the safety of employees as they continue in the best manner possible to process food for our country,” said Keri Navratil, City Manager for Storm Lake, in the release. “We know that the efforts to protect Tyson team members also protect their families and, in turn, our other residents.”

This processing facility in Storm Lake is among more than 40 production facilities in the U.S. where the company is rolling out advanced testing capabilities and enhanced care options onsite, the release said. They are partnering with MATRIX MEDICAL and others. Tyson will continue to disclose test results at other plants where they are conducting facility-wide testing to better understand the coronavirus and protective measures to help prevent its spread.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we continue to take strong action to ensure they feel protected in their community and when they come to work,” said Tom Brower, Senior Vice President of Health and Safety for Tyson Foods in the release. “As in Storm Lake, we are routinely finding high levels of asymptomatic positives when we test widely at our plants and because of that, we can do a public service by sharing the results with the local community.”

Large-scale testing is being prioritized in communities with a higher prevalence of COVID-19, the release said. 

Read more in our three-part series on COVID-19 testing at pork packing plants. 

Part One: COVID-19: The Rest of the Story

Part Two: COVID-19 Tests Reveal Surprising Results

Part Three: When Is it Safe to Go Back to Work?

Antibody Testing: A Critical Piece of the Puzzle (for People and Pigs)

Herd Immunity in Pigs: A Case Study for Getting America Back to Work