Brazil prosecutors sue JBS to test chicken plant workers for COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA is seen in the unit in the city of Jundiai, Brazil June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian labor prosecutors have sued JBS SA JBSS3.SA to compel the removal of workers at one of its chicken processing plants, asking the company to assess their health, and ultimately test them for the novel coronavirus, according to a statement on Tuesday.

The request comes as JBS’s Montenegro plant in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul reported 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. There are another 301 suspected cases at that facility, where one worker has died from COVID-19 complications, the labor prosecutors said.

The 337 workers with confirmed and suspected cases began exhibiting symptoms between July 14 and Aug. 14, the prosecutors said, emphasizing “the gravity of the situation at the plant.”

JBS told Reuters it has not been formally notified of the lawsuit.

The federal prosecutors based in Rio Grande do Sul said the suit was the seventh they had filed against JBS since the pandemic started.

The prosecutors began investigating working conditions at the Montenegro plant on April 3, according to the statement.

JBS has said repeatedly it abides with federal rules passed in June governing factories operating amid the pandemic and also follows advice from renowned health institutions to prevent outbreaks at its meat plants.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Aurora Ellis