Willamette Egg Farms, located about seven miles south of town on Canby-Marquam Highway, has confirmed that one of its employees tested positive for the new coronavirus last month.
“We did recently have an employee test positive for COVID-19,” said company spokeswoman Lisa Hanly. “In accordance with CDC guidelines and working hand in hand with the Clackamas County Health Department, we followed our procedures for safely managing the situation to protect our employees.”
Hanly said the employee followed all quarantine protocols, recovered and has been cleared by the health department to return to work. Other staff who worked closely with the individual also self-quarantined for the recommended 14 days.
According to sources speaking on condition of anonymity, the employee was not a truck driver, but worked inside one of the facilities on Canby-Marquam Highway. The individual did not have direct contact with the public or food products, they said.
“The FDA’s position on food safety remains that there is no evidence food or food packaging is associated with the transmission of COVID-19,” Hanly said. “At this critical time when food is needed worldwide, we are following Oregon state and CDC guidelines to continue to safely and quickly produce our products.”
Started as a small family farm in 1934, Willamette is now the state’s largest commercial egg producer and has been a longtime leader in the industry push toward cage-free hen housing.
Post Holdings Inc., a St. Louis-based company whose products include the Post brand breakfast cereals, purchased Willamette from family owners Gordon Satrum and his son, Greg Satrum, in 2015.
They produce fresh shell eggs, which are available in various sizes and retail options in grocery stores, hard-boiled eggs and liquid eggs, which are generally marketed wholesale to the food-service and hospitality industries.
In a March 16 message from Robert V. Vitale, president and CEO of Post Holdings, the company promised to follow the principles of safeguarding employee health, maintaining supply chain continuity and protecting employees from economic hardship in its decision-making related to COVID-19.
“If you are sick, please respect and follow quarantine protocols,” Vitale told employees. “Do not hesitate to get tested if you are experiencing symptoms, and we will provide paid leave during that entire cycle. We will not ask people to use sick days or paid time off when they are impacted by COVID-19.”
The message from the CEO did not address Willamette Egg specifically, noting that their plans are “going to require a customized approach for each business within Post Holdings, as each business faces different challenges.”
Photo courtesy Willamette Egg Farms.
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