Cargill to shut Quebec beef plant temporarily, cites coronavirus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: The Cargill meat-packing plant where there was an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which affected the meat supply chain, in High River, Alberta, Canada May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Todd Korol /File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian arm of U.S. agribusiness Cargill [CARG.UL] said on Sunday it would soon temporarily shut a meat-processing plant in the province of Quebec after 64 workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

The plant is in Chambly, a suburb of Montreal, one of the worst hit cities in Canada. Cargill said it was winding down production and hoped the facility would be fully closed by the middle of the week so all employees could be tested.

“We are concerned about the number of cases in the community and among our employees. We currently have 64 cases, which is 13 percent of our local workforce,” company spokesman Daniel Sullivan said in an email.

Cargill said in late April it would start to reopen its beef processing plant in High River, Alberta in early May after it was forced to close down because hundreds of workers had become infected with the coronavirus. The plant represents about 36% of Canada’s total beef processing capacity.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft