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[email protected]: Meatpacking plants cover up COVID-19 cases | Stores continue serving mask-less shoppers

Getty Images meat packaged supermarket
Each day at 5 p.m. we collect the five top food and supplement headlines of the day, making it easy for you to catch up on today's most important natural products industry news.

COVID-19 cases appear to be slowing at meat plants. But companies aren’t releasing test results

Three major meatpackers are failing to accurately disclose infection rates at their facilities and have no public-facing plan for regularly testing their employees. Recent investigations have shown significant discrepancies between the number of COVID-19 cases reported by these companies in the past and the actual amount of sick workers. Experts say that workers in isolated rural communities without unions and advocates will be especially vulnerable moving forward. Read more at The Fern


Walmart and others will still serve customers who refuse to wear masks, despite new rules

Big-box retailers made headlines last week by announcing a new requirement for customers nationwide to wear masks in their stores. But in an effort to avoid confrontations it would appear that mask-less shoppers are not being actively prohibited from entering and shopping at these locations. Both labor advocates and retailers agree that it shouldn't fall to employees to enforce this rule, but this leaves an uncomfortable gray area that leads to masks once again becoming optional. Read more at CNN



Advocates push for more farmworker protections as coronavirus cases surge

Farmworkers are lacking in protection against COVID-19, and their employers are largely to blame. This is because temporary agriculture workers on H-2A visas are given housing and transportation by their employers, and these "labor camps" are constructed in a way that makes social distancing extremely difficult. The food supply chain has already been dealt a huge blow, but a surge of COVID-19 cases among farmworkers would bring this upset to the next level. Read more at CNBC


New plant-based bottles degrade in 1 year

A new "green" plastic is currently being developed in the Netherlands in partnership with several major beverage manufacturers like Coca-Cola and Danone. Dutch company Avantium expects the eco-friendlier plastic-like material to be used as bottles, textiles and protective films. This kind of plant plastic derived from fructose decomposes in just a single year but is also recyclable. It will likely be on store shelves by 2023. Read more at Futurism


Vertical farms fill a tall order

Food security has been top of mind for many throughout the pandemic, and vertical indoor farms are being posited as part of the solution to an unpredictable food supply chain—especially in cities. AI-controlled indoor vertical farms bypass worries about pesticides and climate change; however, they don't as of yet pose a serious threat to conventional farming when it comes to commodities such as fruit from orchards or grains grown in large fields. Read more at The Wall Street Journal

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