Throughout the pandemic, a lot of reports circulated that meatpackers were “hot spots” when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.

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The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released data following its investigation into the meatpacking industry’s response to the pandemic. What they found is that during the first year of the pandemic, 2020, infections and death among the five largest meatpacking companies-Tyson Foods, Inc. (Tyson), JBS USA Holdings, Inc. (JBS), Smithfield Foods (Smithfield), Cargill, Inc. (Cargill), and National Beef Packing Company LLC (National Beef)- was significantly higher than previously thought.

According to the report, over 59,000 workers in these companies were infected with COVID-19 with at least 269 people dying.

These deaths sometimes lead to lawsuits as seen here in Iowa.

The report also says that meatpackers worked with the Trump Administration to make sure they could stay open during the pandemic.

But meatpackers are not happy with these claims. Julie Anna Potts is president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, the national trade association for the meat and poultry packers and processors.

The Meat Institute and its member companies voluntarily provided hundreds of thousands of pages to the Committee. The report ignores the rigorous and comprehensive measures companies enacted to protect employees and support their critical infrastructure workers.

She adds that the meat industry spent billions to reverse COVID-19’s trajectory.

The committee uses 20-20 hindsight and cherry-picks data to support a narrative that doesn’t tell the whole story of the early days of a national emergency.

The report mentions the Marshalltown JBS facility that is facing a lawsuit for employee death from COVID-19 as having “’sanitary measures’ that were ‘far from ideal, including that [workers] continue to work shoulder to shoulder on a production line that does not slow down and the use of masks is still optional.’”

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