Smithfield Foods is no longer fighting a subpoena for South Dakota Department of Health records related to a coronavirus outbreak investigation at Smithfield's Sioux Falls plant after coming to an agreement with OSHA, the company said.
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Smithfield reached a resolution with OSHA last week ensuring "private employee medical and confidential business information will be protected from disclosure to the public and/or will not be made available to our competitor," a Smithfield spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement.
"[W]e were simply asking for the opportunity to review these documents to flag such issues and, if our concerns were validated, require that production include confidentiality safeguards," the Smithfield spokesperson said. "Our employees in Sioux Falls have already experienced discrimination in the community amid the pandemic, and we take our responsibility to protect their private health information seriously."
More than 850 Smithfield employees and 240 of their friends and family members contracted coronavirus in the outbreak, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. The plant temporarily closed in April following pressure from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem over the spike in cases.
“The South Dakota Department of Health fully complied with the subpoena issued to it by OSHA and the United States,” said Ron Parsons, the U.S. attorney for the District of South Dakota, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
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Smithfield, owned by the Chinese company WH Group, has not laid off or furloughed any of its 42,000 workers because of the pandemic. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., opened an inquiry into major meatpackers' response to coronavirus in June. Smithfield CEO Ken Sullivan responded in a June 30 letter recently made public.
"We have no interest in being a political pawn for either party," Sullivan wrote. "The Department of Homeland Security, through multiple administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, has always recognized food and agriculture as critical infrastructure. Despite the inference in your letter, this was not a new designation by the current Administration."
You can read Sullivan's letter here.
FOX Business' inquiry to OSHA was not returned at the time of publication.