As COVID-19 continues to evolve, we understand the critical role we play in staying on the cutting edge of the response. Not only because our work at Tyson Foods feeds the nation, but also because of the priority we place on the health and safety of our team members.

New science and guidelines emerge almost daily, which means all of us in the meat industry must remain agile and innovative in our approach to fighting the virus. We’re committed to the lessons we’ve learned thus far that will pave the way for future responses.

As part of this commitment, we recently gathered an independent panel of experts to discuss workplace safety in the COVID-19 era. We reviewed insights from the pandemic, the latest innovative solutions emerging to fight the virus and further obstacles that may lie ahead.

Tyson Foods desires to integrate the perspective and recommendations of preeminent scholars and scientific researchers as we work towards COVID-19 solutions. As such, we recently gathered an esteemed panel group ranging from medical professionals to epidemiologists and food safety experts. Panelists included Dr. Daniel Castillo, Matrix Medical; Dr. Scott Cherry, Axiom Medical; Dr. David Acheson, The Acheson Group; Dr. Harry Hull, Former Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and State of Minnesota Epidemiology and Infectious Disease Specialist and Dr. Margje Haverkamp, Alvarez & Marsal.

The meeting of these experts, which we hope will be the first of many, covered a wide range of topics such as testing and tracing, social distancing in the workplace, airflow and personal protective equipment, the potential rollout of a future vaccine and communications to and between employees on how they can best protect themselves from illness. 

Among the many topics covered by the panel, these three insights incorporate learnings from COVID-19 that we believe will help guide future thinking and further action, not only for Tyson but for broader industries as well:

A long-term culture of health is a necessity

COVID-19 has prompted Tyson Foods to lean into team member health and safety in new and fresh ways. It has, and will always be, our top priority. Panel experts agreed that the pandemic has caused companies like ours to increase overall awareness of employee wellbeing and adopt a culture of health. Part of this culture includes the willingness to adopt practices that could help prevent the future spread of diseases. Dr. Castillo noted in the discussion that mask wearing was rarely adopted outside of Asia until this year. But if the practice becomes normal around the world, it could, for example, help slow the spread of seasonal influenza.

Testing must continue to evolve into 2021

Though COVID-19 testing has improved significantly since the early days of the pandemic, panel experts noted that organizations like Tyson Foods must continue to invest in the latest resources available and pivot as new science emerges. The COVID monitoring strategy we launched in July was based on the latest thinking from medical experts. While its implementation has been successful, we remain vigilant in looking toward the next phase of this approach.

Effective public and private partnership is key

In many ways, the unprecedented impact of the pandemic has brought together companies and public officials like never before. It is through collaboration that we will best be able to provide solutions and protect the wellbeing of our communities.

Dr. Cherry noted that engagement strategies designed to facilitate coordination between public and private entities should be established and shored up before a new wave of COVID-19 or a future pandemic hit. Collaboration will be even more important as we look ahead to the potential rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine in the next year.  

As a result of this panel event, Tyson Foods is pleased to have published a white paper documenting key discussion points and suggestions on future areas of research cited by the panelists. It is our hope that those in the food supply industry, public sector and government will take full advantage of the insights available in this document.

Visit this page to download your copy of the white paper here.

Given our role in the food supply chain, we are determined to continually improve the way we respond to the pandemic and share our learnings with others for the greater good. By working together, we can help create a safer and better world.

Senior Vice President of Health & Safety at Tyson Foods