May 8, 2020

Specialty Foods Group Set to Resume Operations

Owensboro, KY—Specialty Foods Group (SFG), a meat processor based in Owensboro, Kentucky, announced plans to resume operations on Wednesday, May 13, at its Owensboro, Kentucky facility, with full support from the Green River District Health Department (GRDHD), after temporarily suspending operations as part of its ongoing health-and-safety assessments. Since the pause in operations, SFG has consulted with GRDHD as they’ve continued implementing guidance from the CDC and OSHA, in its ongoing effort to keep their team members, their families and the community safe. SFG temporarily suspended operations on Sunday, May 3, after 22 team members tested positive for COVID-19.

Clayton Horton, MPH, Public Health Director for the Green River District Health Department, has reviewed the initiatives undertaken by SFG to ensure the safety of its team members.

“The Green River District Health Department is thankful and appreciative of Specialty Foods Group’s efforts to respond and adapt to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Horton. “They have fully cooperated with our staff these past several weeks and, like the rest of us, have had to make major changes in order to operate in this new reality of the pandemic. We believe the steps and measures they have put in place will help protect their workforce and our community.”

During the pause in operations, SFG has continued to apply CDC and OSHA guidance for the meat processing industry and added more physical barriers, more timeclocks and more touchless fixtures. The plant also underwent multiple steps of deep cleaning and plant-wide sanitization. When production resumes the company will implement a series of engineered improvements for increased physical distancing, including staggered start and break times, a mandatory mask policy, and enhanced health screenings and health questionnaire upon entry into the plant.

“The safety of our team members, contractors and the community are crucial,” says Eric Sheiss, President of SFG, “and we will continue to work closely with county officials, and to adhere to CDC and OSHA guidance, as we resume production.”

To date, 38 team members have tested positive for COVID-19, representing 5.7% of the employee population. Team members and individuals who have tested positive will be subject to quarantine, based upon the advice of health officials, the affected individual’s health care providers, and in accordance with CDC guidance. Other employees will be allowed to return, provided they are asymptomatic.

“Thank you to those at the Green River District Health Department, Daviess County and the city of Owensboro, who have provided support and consultation during this time,” says Sheiss. “Their support and resources were invaluable in our ongoing efforts to protect our team members and to begin reopening as expeditiously and safely as possible.”

SFG will begin ramping up production in phases across the facility.

For more information on this SFG announcement, please contact:
Jeff Feirick, Corporate

April 30, 2020

Specialty Foods Group Temporarily Suspending Manufacturing Operations

OWENSBORO, KY—Specialty Foods Group (SFG), a meat processor based in Owensboro, Kentucky, has decided to temporarily suspend manufacturing operations as part of its ongoing health-and-safety assessments and efforts to protect its team members and their families.

“We take our role in the U.S. food supply chain seriously. We also take seriously our responsibility to protect our team members during this health crisis,” says Eric Sheiss, SFG President. “We’re being as proactive as we possibly can to best ensure the health and safety of our team. This temporary manufacturing suspension is part of the ongoing effort.”

Over the past several months, SFG has implemented CDC-recommended changes, including significant measures to maximize physical distancing, adding physical barriers, providing cloth masks, enhancing daily cleaning and sanitization, and team member screenings/temperature checks at the start of each work shift. While those steps were effective, SFG, like many other employers in the state, is not immune to the effects of the pandemic. To date, SFG has had a total of 22 confirmed positive cases.

During the suspension, SFG will continue implementation of the CDC’s guidelines, including enhanced sanitization of the plant. Additionally, SFG will continue to work with the Green River District Health Department and consult with the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

SFG officials recognize the impact this temporary closure will have on the community, including important business partners and consumers. Thus, SFG intends to restart manufacturing operations as soon as possible, especially in light of the President’s recent Executive Order and the expected upcoming guidance by the Secretary of Agriculture. The closure is expected to begin on Sunday, May 3rd, and it is currently anticipated that operations will resume on May 11.

For more information on this SFG announcement, please contact:
Jeff Feirick, Corporate

April 1, 2020

Specialty Foods Group, LLC. Statement:
Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Owensboro, KY.—Specialty Foods Group, LLC. (SFG), produces high quality meat products based in Owensboro, Kentucky, has received confirmation that one of its employees has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Officials at the company will continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Green River District Health Department to maximize protection of all its employees in light of this information.

“Our immediate concern is for the health and welfare of this individual and the individual’s family,” says SFG’s President, Eric Sheiss, “and this news further heightens our respect and gratitude for all of our team members, as they continue supplying food to countless other Americans in this incredibly challenging and stressful time.”

Within the context of the Department of Homeland Security designating food & agriculture production as a critical infrastructure industry, SFG is tasked with the special responsibility of continuing to operate during times of national emergency. According to the CDC, there is no evidence of food-associated transmission of COVID-19.

SFG’s Human Resources (HR) Department has been in contact with the affected team member to implement best-practice protocols, per the CDC, for this scenario. Following a medical evaluation, the employee will be in quarantine for 14 days, during which the individual will be eligible for paid leave under the provisions of the company’s COVID-19-specific leave policy.

When this case was confirmed, SFG also notified other employees of possible exposure and directed all team members known to have been in close contact with this individual to stay home and self-quarantine as well.

In the meantime, the employee’s work area has been subject to a thorough, redundant cleaning and sanitization process, as part of SFG’s ongoing intensive proactive measures to protect the health and safety of all its employees. Other measures include restrictive protocols for visitors; staggered breaks, start times; social distancing where possible; a heightened focus on both personal & facility hygiene; and implementation of new, COVID-specific medical leave policies.

For more information on this SFG announcement, please contact:
Jeff Feirick, Corporate