BRF suspends mask use at Brazil chicken plant - memo

Other Brazilian meatpackers have been slow to change protocol
calendar icon 18 May 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Brazilian pork and poultry processor BRF SA will suspend the mandatory use of face masks at one of its processing plants from Sunday, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, due to a drop in local cases of COVID-19.

BRF did not immediately respond to questions about the measure, which applies to workers at its Carambei chicken plant in Parana state.

A Carambei union representative confirmed the plan, which cites an improvement of COVID-19 indicators as well as state and municipal decrees allowing mask use to be dropped.

Other major meatpackers in Brazil have been slower to change their masking policies.

JBS SA, the world's largest meat producer, said in a statement to Reuters it has not changed its COVID-19 protocols, keeping mask requirements at its units.

Aurora, a privately owned pork and poultry processor, is keeping mask use "at its main plants as these are units that export to countries that require it."

Marfrig said at 100% of units in Brazil, employees use a face shield to protect against COVID-19, together with a triple-layer surgical mask in some areas and PPF2 mask in others.

China, which has selectively banned meat from Brazil and other countries over COVID concerns since the start of the pandemic, continues to enforce strict measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

BRF's Carambei plant is authorized to export chicken products to Hong Kong, Egypt and South Africa, among others, according to the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry's website.

The use of face masks in Carambei will continue to be mandatory for workers in risk groups, including over 60-year-olds or immuno-supressed individuals, the BRF memo said.

The Carambei union said, citing information from BRF, that the move would be in line with an amended agreement signed between the company and labour prosecutors.

A labour prosecutor's office in Parana did not have an immediate comment.

When COVID-19 infections started to ravage Brazilian meat plants in 2020, some companies, including BRF, signed agreements with labour prosecutors in different states aimed at improving on-site worker protections.

Source: Reuters

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