Limiting meat purchases

Highland County shoppers began seeing more signs in local groceries Monday limiting meat quantities that consumers can purchase.

Signs posted in the meat departments of area Kroger stores began to pop up Friday requesting that customers buy only two packages of meat products at a time.

In a news release, the nation’s leading grocery store chain said that requested limits only applied to ground beef and fresh pork products.

Similar signs were visible at both Walmart and Community Markets in Hillsboro. However, shoppers were greeted with full shelves and no signage at the Hillsboro Save A Lot meat department.

During a Monday Facebook live news conference, Highland County Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Branden Jackman said that the issue of a compromised food supply chain locally had been addressed at the daily morning meeting of local emergency personnel.

“I’ve seen where some of the local farmers have started selling their livestock directly to the public because of some of the processing plants being shut down,” Jackman said. “I don’t think we have any issues with the food supply chain here because of the standards that are in place and the amount of testing that is involved.”

According to Kroger, the precautionary measure stems from the reported shutdowns of meat processing facilities across the nation in response to claims those plants have been unable to protect workers from the virus pandemic.

President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on April 29 after declaring that meat processing plants fell into the category of “necessary infrastructure.”

The move came six days after the nation’s largest meat supplier closed down one of its major processing plants when substantial numbers of workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Amid those concerns, 22 other meat processing facilities across the country shut their doors as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey on Friday, May 1 of more than 130,000 meat processing plant employees in 19 states.

That survey revealed that nearly 5,000 — or about 3.8 percent — of their total workforce tested positive for the new coronavirus.

With the panic buying and shortages at the start of the pandemic declaration fresh in mind, USA Today made the prediction Friday that meat shortages would not become as widespread as toilet paper and paper towels were in mid-March.

The newspaper said that shoppers are more likely to see localized shortages of specific cuts or types of meat, not entirely empty shelves.

A Kroger news release sought to dispell any fears that might trigger another wave of panic buying.

“There is plenty of protein in the supply chain; however, some processors are experiencing challenges. At this time, we’ve added purchase limits only on ground beef and fresh pork,” the statement read.

Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571

Signs such as this one at the Hillsboro Kroger have been posted at other area Kroger stores in an attempt to head off potential meat shortages. such as this one at the Hillsboro Kroger have been posted at other area Kroger stores in an attempt to head off potential meat shortages. Tim Colliver | The Times-Gazette
Some area stores attempt to stem potential shortages

By Tim Colliver