Note: The following is a message from Tyson Foods CEO Noel White to the company’s team members.

Protecting team members and ensuring the continuity of our business are essential as we continue efforts to address COVID-19 (coronavirus). We’ve been actively monitoring this situation and are continually adjusting our approach as we learn more about the spread of this virus.

Tyson Foods’ role as America’s largest food company is critical, so ensuring we’re able to continue producing food is essential. That’s why we’re taking additional measures to protect our people and our company.

Travel

Social distancing – avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance from others when possible – can help people avoid the virus. That’s why Tyson Foods has implemented travel restrictions. Late last month Tyson Foods suspended all international business travel on commercial carriers. Effective immediately, we are suspending all U.S. commercial business travel. Exceptions must be approved by an Enterprise Leadership Team (ELT) member.

For the same precautionary reasons, we encourage you to avoid personal travel via cruise ships, airplanes and other common carriers. 

Depending on where you travel, you may be subject to self-quarantine for 14 days when you return. You should consider this and your ability to work remotely before traveling.

Visitors

We’re only allowing visitors who are considered essential into our offices and facilities. The determination of who is essential will be made by the appropriate ELT members.

Team Members

Since information is the best tool for combatting the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been diligent about educating team members about the virus and ways to avoid catching it. We have an internal coronavirus page with access to videos and information about the virus, as well as the company’s efforts to address it. 

We’re also implementing changes to help hourly team members, including:

  • Relaxing attendance policies in our plants by eliminating any punitive effect for missing work due to illness.
  • Waiving the 5 consecutive day waiting period for Short Term Disability benefits.
  • Waiving the co-pay, co-insurance and deductible for doctor visits for COVID-19 testing as well as eliminating pre-approval or preauthorization steps.
  • Waiving co-pays for the use of telemedicine.
  • Relaxing refill limits for 30 day prescriptions of maintenance medication.

Working Remotely

In order to protect the health of our team members and ensure we can continue to support our food production supply chain; many team members in our U.S. corporate office locations will work remotely through March 27.

To ensure business continuity, management will determine what critical business personnel will be asked to continue working in the corporate offices while others operate from home. Your manager will inform you of your status. Those who work remotely will be expected to work just as they do when in our corporate offices.

Food Safety

I want to remind you that COVID-19 is not considered a food safety concern. The CDC says “currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” USDA reports “There is no evidence at this time to suggest that the Coronavirus is a foodborne pathogen.” According to a statement from the FDA, “we are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.”

Additional Adjustments

We have a cross-sectional team of leaders meeting frequently to stay on top of the coronavirus outbreak. Since it’s an ever-evolving matter, we will continue to adapt and adjust our approach as needed. 

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work together through this unique situation.

Author
President & Chief Executive Officer at

Noel White has run the largest U.S. food company since late September 2018, building on Tyson Foods’ existing strategy to even better serve customers and people’s changing tastes. In his role, he leads 141,000 team members and familiar brands including Tyson, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Sara Lee, Ball Park, Wright, Aidells, ibp and State Fair.

Noel is committed to growing Tyson Foods by focusing on value-added foods and international expansion. At the same time, he aims to stabilize the company’s commodity businesses by listening to customers and adapting to their needs. He believes doing good is good business. He is passionate about both sustainability and investing in our people – for instance, by expanding our workforce education program, Upward Academy.

Bringing more than 35 years of experience with Tyson Foods and its predecessor companies (including IBP, inc.), Noel most recently served as group president of Tyson’s Fresh Meats business unit. He previously worked in numerous sales, management, and company officer positions including chief operations officer, president of poultry, senior group vice president of fresh meats, senior vice president for fresh meat sales and marketing, and senior vice president, pork product management.

A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Noel is a graduate of Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. He received a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in economics from Oklahoma City University.