JBS cuts beef production at U.S. facility as precaution amid coronavirus concerns

CHICAGO, March 30 (Reuters) - JBS USA will reduce beef production for two weeks at a Pennsylvania facility after managers displayed flu-like symptoms, the company said on Monday, making it the first U.S. meat plant to cut operations due to worries over the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the senior management team at the facility in Souderton, Pennsylvania, were sent home to monitor their health as a precaution, JBS said in a statement.

JBS did not say how much production would be reduced or whether the employees were being tested for COVID-19.

The plant has more than 1,000 workers and is the largest beef facility east of Chicago, serving customers along the eastern seaboard and around the world, according to the company, a subsidiary of Brazil-based JBS SA.

The facility will continue to run “fabrication and ground beef operations” and should return to normal on April 14, according to the statement.

U.S. live cattle futures have tumbled recently on concerns that the coronavirus pandemic will shut slaughterhouses and back up supplies of livestock.

Meat plants in Canada have already been shut temporarily due to concerns about the virus. (Reporting by Tom Polansek Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)