Fearmans reports first COVID19 infection at the pork processing plant

News 100 redBy Staff

May 11th, 2020



Sofina Foods plant in Burlington, known locally as Fearmans, has reported that an employee tested positive for COVID19.

An employee at the Sofina Mississauga plant also tested positive.

The Burlington plant is a pork processing operation with 1000 employees.

Daniele Dufour , Senior Director, Communications, Public Relations and Consumer Inquiries – Sofina Foods Inc. said the company became aware of both cases on Tuesday.

A 150 year old corporation that plays a significant role in the Burlington economy. Should a slughterhiuse be in this location?

Known locally as Fearmans, the 150 year old corporation that plays a significant role in the Burlington economy. The plant is now a part of the Sofina operation

“The person [at the Burlington plant] was at work until April 28 and as soon as they started experiencing symptoms, they went home,” Dufour told CBC News on Friday.

“The employee wore a mask while at the site, this is why in our own risk assessment we determined that the risk was low.”

Dufour added that all employees who were in close contact with the affected workers have been asked to self-isolate at home.

Sofina Foods operates 19 meat processing plants in Canada.

On its website the company said it is closely monitoring the evolution of COVID-19 and working to prevent risks to employees and its ability to continue manufacturing.

Dufour said while the two cases happened around the same time, they are not related.

While Sofina Foods knew about the cases since Tuesday, the union representing workers said it was only notified on Thursday.

Tim Deelstra, spokesperson for UFCW Local 175, said while the company has taken steps at each of its sites to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19, workers are understandably worried.

Deelstra said in a telephone interview that face shields have been issued and that partitions have been put in place in some but not all the productions lines.

pork production line

Corporation and union said that everyone has to wear a face mask and where possible wear a shield.

Workers in the meat packing business are basically shoulder to shoulder as they process the meat on a conveyor belt.
The infections in the meat [packing plants in Alberta saw hundreds of infections, at least one death and the shut down of two plants.

“Obviously, at this time, workers are concerned if they’re going into the workplace,” Deelstra said.

“We’ll look into those concerns and follow up on a regular basis with the employer, and we’re doing everything we can to address them and provide them with as much safety and security as they can get.”

“So, it’s good to see that there’s more recognition happening for those workers now and we’re going to do our absolute utmost as a union to look after them at this time, to make sure that they can go home healthy.”

In a press release issued Friday afternoon, Sofina Foods said the infected employees are doing well and following the guidance of the provincial health authority.

Dufour also said that the company’s COVID-19 response protocol was immediately deployed to investigate the incidents and mitigate any risks to other employees.

“In addition to the required PPE when in production areas, masks or face shields are now mandatory in production areas at these two sites,” Dufour wrote in the press release.

“We have a comprehensive manual and protocols in place for such situations and the teams were prepared. This allowed us to quickly assess risks, alert proper stakeholders and identify any action needed in addition to the proactive measures already in place.”

Dufour said both plants remain fully operational, and all Sofina Foods sites have deployed a number of measures to prevent the spread of the virus. These include temperature checks, ongoing sanitation of common areas and offices, staggered breaks, physical distancing in common areas, face shields, plexiglas separations on the production line, at handwashing stations or in lunch rooms.

In addition, the plants have redirected the flow of movement to create a single point of entry and a single exit point at each site.

“In the case of our Burlington plant … Given the sanitation protocols in place at the plant, including regular fogging, we are confident that the areas where the employee went do not pose any contamination concerns.”

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1 comment to Fearmans reports first COVID19 infection at the pork processing plant

  • Tim C

    And 1 dead and 25+ positive at Maple Lodge in Brampton and on it goes. Wait until the Ford plant opens back up in a couple weeks and see how that works out.