March 19, 2020
Providing protection for our associates and ensuring the quality and safety of our product are essential as we continue efforts to address COVID-19 (coronavirus). Since this situation is continually changing, we are prepared to adjust our policies based on new information and guidelines.
House of Raeford Farms is part of a Critical Infrastructure Industry as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, and emphasized by the President in his Coronavirus Guidelines for America released on March 16. Therefore, we have a special responsibility to maintain our work schedules and continue providing chicken for our nation’s food supply. Currently all of our facilities are operating normally. In order to meet this demand and provide for the health and safety of our employees, we have instituted the following measures.
We are educating our associates about the virus and ways they can protect themselves and their families.
In addition, we are also implementing changes to help hourly team members, including:
- Relaxing attendance policies in our plants as it applies to missing work due to illness and childcare.
- In North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia we are waiving the co-pay, co-insurance and deductible for doctor visits for COVID-19 testing as well as eliminating pre-approval or preauthorization steps. We expect that the healthcare insurer for our fully insured plant in Louisiana will soon approve this action.
- Any associates who have symptoms of COVID-19 or live with someone diagnosed with the virus will be placed on paid leave for medical assistance.
Within our facilities, we are taking additional measures to provide protection for individuals:
- Continue to follow Good Manufacturing Practices that have been part of training for all associates working in a food processing facility. This involves very detailed sanitation procedures and oversight to prevent the spread of foodborne pathogens.
- Installation of additional hand sanitizing stations.
- Increased scheduled cleaning of breakroom surfaces, restrooms, door handles, and other areas receiving high traffic.
- Encouraging employees to practice self-distancing in common welfare areas and when entering or leaving work areas.
- Where workflow permits, stagger breaks and lunch times so that smaller groups of employees are in common welfare areas.
- Educating company healthcare personnel, managers, and supervisors to recognize signs of COVID-19 symptoms in associates, and directing them to company or private healthcare providers for examination and treatment as necessary.
We are only allowing visitors considered essential into our offices and facilities. We screen everyone at our facility entry points to determine the purpose of their visit and their possible exposure to the coronavirus. This action helps ensure our associates have no exposure from individuals traveling from outside the region where associates live and work.
Experts have suggested that we practice social distancing by avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance from others when possible. This will help people avoid the virus. Therefore, House of Raeford has suspended for our associates all international travel and the majority of domestic travel on commercial carriers. The individual’s senior manager must approve any domestic travel requests on commercial carriers.
As a precaution, we encourage our associates to avoid personal travel via cruise ships, airplanes and other common carriers.
The safety and quality of the food we produce is, of course, a high priority for House of Raeford. Based on statements from the CDC, USDA, and FDA, there is currently “no evidence to support transmission of the COVID-19 virus associated with food.” Our processing facilities will continue to maintain the highest standards of food safety in cooperation with the USDA.
If any company or grower personnel test positive, or if any area of the Company’s operations become exposed to the virus, the company will cooperate fully with local, state, and federal authorities to implement and enforce appropriate quarantines.
Our leadership team will monitor the coronavirus outbreak, and adjust our plan as required. We fully expect to survive the demands of this unforeseen situation, and we appreciate the understanding of our associates, customers, and the communities where we operate.
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