Editorial


Concern Over Untested COVID Therapies

The World Health Organization has clearly stated that there are at present no therapeutic agents shown to prevent or cure COVID-19. Officials in Madagascar, including the President, claim that an extract from Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood) an anti-malarial, is both a preventive and therapeutic for COVID-19. Publicity generated by the government elicited considerable interest especially in African nations, prompting the WHO to issue a statement on May 4th stating caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies.  Many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimal requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy.  The use of untested products can put people in danger, given a full sense of security and distracting them from handwashing and physical distancing that are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention

 

It appears that Andry Rajoelina the President of Madagascar is promoting the domestic product  termed COVID-Organics as a therapy despite having no scientific evidence to substantiate the claim. There are obvious questions as to who might be profiting from what appears to be a scam promotion of a quack “cure”.

 

Dr. Shabir Madhi. Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa noted "there is no evidence that COVID-Organics has cured anything, noting that noting that Madagascar has only confirmed 405 cases and it is impossible to assess efficacy on twenty patients".  Madhi added "the majority of people who have this virus show no symptoms; of those who develop symptoms 85 percent of them have mild illness.  You can treat them with water, and it would have the same effect". 

 

There are obviously many entrepreneurs in companies, some of them good people and evidentially well intentioned, who are promoting cures for COVID.  Many claims are based on anecdotal reports or preliminary studies with defective designs and lacking statistical evaluation.  Despite early claims for the benefits of hydroxychloroquine, when subjected to double-blind evaluation, the potentially toxic effects of the drug became evident without demonstrating any therapeutic advantage.

 

Until an effective and safe vaccine and proven therapeutic compounds become available, the world will have to endure basic preventive measures including social distancing, wearing face masks in public and avoiding crowds.

 

 COVID-19 will not miraculously disappear, neither will an effective therapeutic compound be developed in the immediate future.  Even if a limited number of the 100 vaccines under development are  proven to be effective by the end of this year, deployment to achieve immunity in at least 60 percent of our population will extend into mid -2021.

 

The reality of COVID-19 is that the food industry must accept a realistic timeline and plan accordingly with regard to production capacity, inventories, personnel and distribution.


 

Egg Industry News


USDA DATA ON MAY CAGE-FREE PRODUCTION

EGG-NEWS summarizes and comments on data and trends in the monthly USDA Cage-Free Report, supplementing the information posted weekly in the EGG-NEWS Egg Weekly Price and Inventory Report.

The USDA Cage Free Report for the month of May 2020 released on June 1st 2020 documented an unchanged population of hens producing under the Certified Organic seal since January. In contrast cage free flocks increased by 0.3 percent in May after a 0.5 percent increase in April following a substantial 13.4 percent increase during the first quarter of 2020. The respective numbers of hens in organic and cage-free flocks should reflect the realities of supply and demand in the market over successive quarters.

Average flock production was raised to 77.5 percent for both categories of non-caged hens reflecting the depletion of older flocks and higher relative production from chicks placed in October-November 2019 for the Easter 2020 market.

 

Flock size May April (million hens) 2020 2020

 

Av. Q1

2020

 

Av. Q3 2019

 

Av. Q2 2019

 

 

Certified Organic 15.7 15.7

15.7

16.2

15.8

 

 

Cage-free hens 61.1 60.9

56.3

54.5

52.0

 

 

Total non-caged 76.8 76.6

72.0

70.7

67.8

 

 

 

Average weekly production (cases). May April

Certified Organic

236,899 (232,314; +1.9%)

Cage-free

920,155 (899,908; +2.2%)

Total non-caged

1,157,054 (1,132,222; +2.2%)

 

Average Wholesale Contract Price Cage-Free Brown

$1.53/doz. ($1.53 Sept.’19 through April ‘20)

Range:

$1.15 to $2.10/doz. (unchanged)

FOB Negotiated price, grade quality, nest-run, loose

Price range $1.60 to $1.76 per dozen

 

Average Value of $1.71/doz. (was $1.26 April.)

 

 

Average Advertised National Retail Price C-F, L, Brown

$3.08/doz. (was $2.69 April 2020)

USDA 6-Regions

High: NE

$3.38/doz. $3.18 (NE.)

 

Low: MW

$3.11/doz. $2.32 (MW.)

 

Based on the importance of cage-free production, the USDA-AMS issues their report on volumes and prices at monthly intervals for the information of Industry stakeholders. There is some doubt as to the accuracy of the individual monthly flock numbers especially when reports show either no change in the cage-free flock for sequential months or a large difference for the preceding month after the end of a quarter. It is suggested that USDA consider a quarterly report with more accurate and consistent data to be more useful to the industry.

 

Subscribers are referred to weekly USDA wholesale and retail prices posted in the EGG-NEWS Egg Price and Inventory Report E-mailed each Friday. The previous Monthly Cage-Free Report is available under the STATISTICS Tab.


 

Egg Week

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, June 3rd 2020.

  • The U.S. flock in production was 312.5 million, down 0.3 million from the previous week.
  • Shell inventory was up 1.5 percent after a 1.5 percent rise last week indicating a relative restoration in the balance between supply and demand. This is attributed to the 9.7 million reduction in producing hens last week due to molting and some depletion. Demand may be holding at retail and there is evidence of a return in the food service sector as the economy reopens.
  • USDA Midwest benchmark generic prices for Extra large and Large were unchanged at averages of 77.5 and 75.5 cents per dozen respectively. Mediums were unchanged at an average of 61.5 cents per dozen. The market has obviously bottomed after two weeks of relative stability following five successive weekly declines in price. This situation will change as molted hens resume production.
  • The price of breaking stock in the Midwest was unchanged an average of 34 cents per dozen. Checks were unchanged at 24.5 cents per dozen.

OVERVIEW

Prices

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on May 26th 2020 the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large as delivered to DCs were unchanged at averages of 77.5 and 75.5 cents per dozen respectively. Mediums were unchanged at 61.5 cents per dozen reflecting a restoration of balance between availability and demand across all sizes Prices should be compared with the USDA benchmark average 5-Region blended nest-run cost of 58.4 cents per dozen in April 2020, (excluding provisions for packing and transport). The progression of prices during 2018-2020 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The June 1st 2020 USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 67: No. 22) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.85 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending May 25th. This average price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.76 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central Region attained $0.91 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was $0.18 per dozen above the three-year average of $0.72 per dozen and approximately $0.46 cents per dozen above the price during the corresponding week in 2019.

Flock Size

According to the USDA the number of producing hens this past week (rounded to 0.1 million) fell <0.1 percent to 312.5 million, 0.3 million hens lower than the past week. If USDA data is accurate, the producing flock was reduced by molting concurrently with prices bottoming after a decline from a peak of $3.00 per dozen over six weeks. The hen population producing eggs is now more balanced to meet seasonal consumer and industrial demand. Any number above 315 million hens in production during early summer portends lower than average prices and increased inventory unless matched by proportional increases in demand. The “March Madness” buying in response to COVID-19 concern is long since over and the Industry has now transcended the downside of the roller coaster, with declining prices accentuated by an influx of shell eggs from the food service sector.


 

Replacement Components for Old Cage and Floor Installations from Fasteners Resource

Fasteners Resource offers a range of products to prolong the operational life of old cage and floor systems requiring replacements and upgrades. Available components include:-

  • Cage floors, doors, partitions A-frames.
  • Durable curtains to replace flimsy OEM material
  • Feed trough either in stock or custom formed, brackets, chain and accessories.
  • Fabrication of obsolete and unobtainable parts including sprockets, bearings, drive motors and manure belt drives
  • Fasteners, tools and safety equipment

 

Fasteners Resources has welding, forming and bending capability to facilitate re-builds allowing restoration of existing barns without the need to replace systems, prolonging the life of houses thereby saving capital.

 

For additional information click on to the Fasteners Resource logo on the right side of the Welcome page or contact Todd Heimler at (248) 933 4868.


 

Hendrix Genetics Evaluating the Effect of Stress on Hen Performance

Following a balanced breeding program, Hendrix-Genetics is evaluating chronic stress in relation to long-term egg production.  Currently, company geneticists are involved in fourteen projects related to aspects of the response to stress. The objective is to define mechanisms by which various stress factors affect metabolic processes. Ultimately with a greater understanding Hendrix-Genetics will be able to incorporate traits of presumed low heritability into breeding programs using biological markers. The Company will also be in a position to suggest management and housing procedures that optimize welfare and production.


 

USDA Acknowledge that $16 Billion in CFAP Funding Inadequate

In an interview with Clinton Griffiths of Ag Day television, Undersecretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey opined that the $16 billion to be distributed under the Cornavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) would cover only one-third of the projected losses experienced by the agricultural sector as a result of COVID-19.
 

Northey stated, “$16 billion is a whole lot of money, right? but if you spread that across agriculture and you look at the impact out there estimates of the impact are at least three times that much, maybe four times that much.”  He added, “We are not covering inventory losses and are not addressing the 2020 crop that going into the ground right now but we know that will be impacted.”

 


USDA Under-secretary Bill Northey.

 

 


 

Relaxation of Regulatory Requirements for GM Crops

A June 2019 Executive Order directed the USDA, the FDA and the EPA to expedite approval of Biotech cultivars. Accordingly the USDA has released a final rule that relieves developers of new GM strains from aspects of the regulatory process.  If developers believe that new cultivars do not present a risk with respect to other plants or pests, it will not be necessary to obtain approval from the USDA requiring extensive evaluation.  Crops regarded as being of low risk will be exempt from regulation.

 

According to a report by Britt Erickson in Chemical and Engineering News the May 18th USDA Rule has elicited opposition from organizations opposed in principle to all GM technology.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (they actually ignore science and have their own interests!) stated, "the result is that government regulators and the public will have no idea what products will enter the market and whether those products appropriately qualified for an exemption from oversight".

 

Activist organizations claim that additional safeguards are required to prevent emergence of pesticide-resistant weeds and that new cultivars may contaminate traditional crops with exotic genes.


 

CoBank Webinar Projects Optimism

In his review of livestock production in the U.S. Will Sawyer of CoBank confirmed an improvement in packing plant utilization.  Beef capacity has increased from a low in early April of 55 percent to a current 85 percent.  Pork capacity has now attained 80 percent although there is a profound backlog of hogs awaiting slaughter, necessitating euthanasia.  The severity of the situation was confirmed last week by Dr. Beth Thompson, State Veterinarian of Minnesota who stated that as of April 30th workers at an idled JBS plant in Worthington, MN were euthanizing 3,000 hogs per day with the intention of increasing to 13,000 per day.

 

The effect of COVID on the workforce in packing plants is evidenced by 5,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 among 50,000 meat plant workers with 45 confirmed fatalities.

 

According to Sawyer, despite promotional articles in news media, vegetable-based protein does not come close to compensating for the loss in red meat and poultry at the supermarket level. Although manufacturers of meat substitutes have expanded production, their capacity is limited, and the large claimed percentage increases are based on a small output. 


Will Sawyer, CoBank Analyst

 

Egg Prices Fall Sharply in China

Injudicious expansion in egg production has a detrimental effect on price. Even in China. From late 2019 through 2020 as egg availability increased, price declined 28 percent on the Dalian Commodity Exchange.  On April 13th, eggs traded at 29 cent per dozen falling to 21 cent per dozen on May 29th.  The 52-week range extended from a high of 35 cents per dozen in January 2020 to the current low.  Egg production in China during 2019 attained 32 billion dozen compared to 8.2 billion dozen for the U.S. Given that more than 65 percent of eggs in China are derived from farms under 50,000 hens with local consumption through markets the actual size of the producing flock at any time is speculative. Demand for protein and empty hog pens led to a sharp escalation in the number of hens in production. Demand obviously fell sharply with the COVID lockdowns in February and disruption of transport within China leading to an imbalance between availability of eggs and consumption.


 

USAPEEC to Assist Exporters Over Labeling Regulations for Mexico

The Government of Mexico issued NOM-051 on March 27th specifying nutritional labels to be affixed to prepackaged food and beverages sold at retail.  The regulations require listing of caloric content, sugars, saturated fat, and sodium paralleling requirements in the U.S. and the EU.  The regulation does not apply to bulk-packed eggs.

 

As a service to their membership the USAPEEC office in Mexico is preparing a webinar for the guidance of U.S. exporters.


 

Consumers Unphased by Transitory Price Spike for Eggs

A survey commissioned by the American Egg Board (AEB), demonstrated that volatility in price and the March spike in prices for eggs had minimal effect on perception of farmers or the willingness to buy. The AEB omnibus survey was based on 1,000 interviews between May 15th and 17th.

 

It is interesting that only 47 percent of all egg buyers surveyed noted the increase in price resulting from pandemic buying.  In the case of 70 percent of egg buyers, there was no change in perception of egg farmers and 23 percent had a more positive appreciation of their contribution to availability. 

 

About 40 percent of egg buyers considered that the transitory increase in price would have no effect on future purchases. An equal proportion of respondents, stated that they would be somewhat less likely to purchase eggs as frequently due to higher price.  Only 19 percent stated that they would be much less likely to purchase eggs as frequently during periods of higher prices.  There was very little difference between respondents categorized as ‘heavy buyers’, purchasing three or more dozen eggs per month from their counterparts buying fewer eggs. 


 

Federal Agencies to Assist in Sourcing PPE and Supplies

In a delayed initiative, the FDA, USDA, and OSHA are now assisting the healthcare and agricultural sectors to help source PPE, disinfectants, and sanitation consumables to implement recommendations from the Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council.

 

The Federal government has established priority for hospitals, healthcare facilities, long term-care and emergency responders to acquire available supplies.  The food and agricultural sector and other components regarded as critical infrastructure will represent the second level of priority.  These participants will include food producers and processors, operators of  storage and distribution centers, groceries and other food retail stores.

 

Producers and packers in the food and agricultural sector are advised to follow the Federal Emergency Management Agency directives in the manual Coronavirus Pandemic: Addressing PPE Needs in Non-Healthcare Settings.  The food and agricultural sector is dissuaded from using medical grade PPE including N95 respirators or supplies needed by the healthcare, public health and emergency service sectors.

 

The Federal directive advises sourcing from private sector suppliers.  In the event that supplies are unavailable commercially, direct representation should be made to the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center.  Requests should state:

  • Specific types, quantities, and locations where PPE is required
  • Estimated time until supplies are depleted
  • The effect of shortages on ability to supply food

 

Clarification on Ovotrack

A posting in the May 29th edition of EGG-News implied that Ovotrack had been acquired by the Sanovo Technology Group.  This is incorrect, the two companies have established a program of strategic cooperation to facilitate integration of Ovotrack Technology into Sanovo installations.

 

Ovotrack remains as an independent company with Job Beekhuis as the CEO.  The strategic alliance will enable Sanovo Technology Group to apply the advantages of Ovotrack traceability to  facilitate monitoring from farm to point of delivery.


Job Beekhuis Founder and

CEO of Ovotrack


 

China Reacts to Rhetoric From the Administration Over Hong Kong and COVID-19

According to Reuters, confidential sources in China have confirmed that the Central Government has instructed official importing agencies to cease buying U.S. agricultural products.  Importers have cancelled up to 20,000 tons of pork and purchases of corn, cotton and soybeans appear to be suspended.  USAPEEC reported that last week, shipments of chicken were subject to additional scrutiny over precise completion of export documentation.

 

Notwithstanding rumors concerning the intended action by the Government of China, orders were placed for three cargoes amounting to 180,000 metric tons (6.7 million bushels) for October and November delivery, falling in the 2020/2021 market year.

 

In terms of the January 15th Phase One Trade Agreement, China was to have purchased $32 billion in U.S. agricultural products over a two-year period, referenced to a 2017 baseline.  Even taking into account the fact that China purchases the bulk of soybeans from the U.S. after August of each year, shipments year-to-date have not matched the pre-2018 rate.  For the first quarter of 2020, soybean shipments to the value of $1.03 billion and pork valued at $691 million were exported to China.

 

The Administration must recognize that China is extremely sensitive over Hong Kong, which it regards as an internal matter.  Even muted responses from the White House such as the measures announced on Friday May 29th will lead to a complete collapse of whatever goodwill exists between the nations. Revocation of the Phase One Trade Agreement is therefore a possibility.  This will be to the detriment of the agricultural sector that has planted 83.5 million acres to soybeans and is anticipating a harvest of 4.125 billion bushels.


 

USDA Shifts Emphasis to Prevention of Newcastle Disease in Southern California

Based on completion of a 90-day period since the last diagnosis of Exotic Newcastle disease (END) the twenty-two-month ongoing outbreak is now over with the last case having been diagnosed on February 1st.  The quarantine imposed on the affected counties is now lifted. 

 

Dr. Burke Healey, Chief Veterinarian for USDA-FSIS noted "APHIS and CDFA employees have worked tirelessly over the past two years towards this goal".  He added "while this is a big accomplishment, we need to continue the work to educate bird owners and arm them with the knowledge and tools to prevent this from happening again".  

 

The California Avian Health Education Network will concentrate on monitoring for Newcastle disease and will education owners of backyard poultry to protect their flocks.  It is hoped that vaccination will be an important component of the prevention program.

 

Consistently both APHIS and CDFA have failed to distinguish between fighting cocks that by their nature are moved regularly and bona fide backyard flocks maintained as hobby birds or to produce eggs for families.  The approach to both biosecurity and prevention is different between these categories and appropriate preventive measures should be applied.


 

FSNS Offers June Course on Disinfection

An updated course Sanitation: Management of Cleaning and Disinfecting in Food Environments will review CDC, FDA and USDA requirements and recommendations for cleaning and sanitizing food environments with respect to COVID-19.

 

In addition, FSNS is offering environmental swab testing for SARS-CoV-2 virus, the pathogen responsible for COVID-19. 

 

For further information access info@fsns.com.


 

Home Delivery Services now a Lose-Lose Proposition

With the advent of COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, owners had the option of either closing or using delivery services.  Uber Eats, DoorDash, Post Mates and Grubhub expanded and posted twice the number of deliveries in April 2020 compared to the corresponding month in 2019.

 

Restaurants have however learned that the 15 to 30 percent commission fee eliminates margins and is decidedly unprofitable.  From the perspective of the major delivery companies, added businesses is not contributing to the bottom line.  Grubhub reported a 12 percent increase in revenue during the first quarter to $363 million but failed to make a profit.  Uber Eats division increased earnings by 52 percent but apparently also posted a loss.

 

Many restaurants report poor service and customers are progressively less willing to pay a premium for home delivery given that the economy has moved into recession.

 

The owner of a casual dining restaurant in Ohio commented, “The apps used by delivery services were good at surging optimization but the companies were terrible at delivery.  Many restaurants relying on home delivery have followed the lead of pizza companies and working with their own drivers.  Restaurant operators are placing menus in orders encouraging direct patronage.

 

Some municipalities are capping commissions to support local restaurants.  This has resulted in imposition of additional order fees to be paid by consumers.  In a highly competitive environment, delivery companies are extending discounts to smaller restaurants to maintain business resulting in lost revenue.

 


 

Nielsen Retail Data Distributed by AEB

The American Egg Board publishes data acquired from Nielsen, reflecting retail volume and value of eggs and products sold at retail.  The data covered in this review reflects 2020 through April 18th presented as either year-to-date or the past 52-weeks as indicated.

 

Conclusions from the April data are summarised:-

  • For 2020 year-to-date, sales of fresh retail eggs expressed in equivalent dozens increased by 10.7 percent over the corresponding period in 2019. Value increased by 16.0 percent.  The increases were attributed to the March spike in demand and pricing due to COVID-19 related panic buying.
  • The USDA projects per capita consumption in calendar 2020 to attain 294.7 eggs, a 0.6 percent increase over 2019.
  • For the past 52-weeks, shell egg sales attained 3.056 billion dozen, a 4.6 percent increase over the corresponding period in 2019.  Value decreased by 3.5 percent to $5.454 billion, representing a unit price of $1.78 per dozen.  Egg products at retail including liquid, frozen or powdered real-egg represented the equivalent of 83.5 million dozen, a one percent decline. Egg product sales were valued at $276 million or a 0.5 percent decline over 2019.  The egg equivalent unit price for egg products was $3.30 generating positive margins for further processing.  Egg products represented 2.6 percent of eggs sold expressed on an egg equivalent basis but comprised 12.4 percent of value.
  • A total of 31.2 million egg equivalent dozens were sold as hard boiled, a decline of 1.9 percent in volume over 2019. Value was $158.3 million, a decline of 1.5 percent compared to 2019.  Hard boiled eggs represented slightly less than one percent of volume but 2.7 percent of total value, again denoting the benefit of further processing.
  • Sales of egg equivalents for the four weeks over the Easter period, ending the Saturday after the Easter weekend, attained 242.5 million dozen in 2019 valued at $425 million corresponding to a unit price of $1.76 per dozen. In contrast for the four-week period in 2020, 280.9 million dozen were sold at a value of $643.1 million or unit price of $2.29 per dozen equivalent to a 30.1 percent increase in unit price over the four-week Easter period during the previous year.
  • For the past 52-week period, generic shell eggs represented 86.9 percent of sales, a 9.6 percent increase over 2019 but a 15.4 percent increase in value.  Cage free eggs represented 10.6 percent of the retail market growing by 17.5 percent in volume and 16.3 percent in value, confirming a reduction in perceived value for this category.  Certified organic eggs represented 2.4 percent of total egg sales, increasing by 21.9 percent in volume and 23.5 percent in value over 2019.
  • In comparing branded and private label categories, sales of branded eggs represented 28.4 percent of sales, an increase of 10.9 percent over the 52 week period.  Private label represented 71.6 percent of sales, an increase of 10.6 percent.  In comparing value, branded eggs comprised 40.6 percent of sales an increase of 19.1 percent.  In contrast, private label value represented 59.4 percent of total shell egg sales and grew at 14 percent.  The fact that branded eggs increased in volume to 28.4 percent of the market but attained 40.6 percent of dollar value. This suggests that private label eggs are now regarded by consumers as a commodity.  This reality is due to the fact that one nationally marketed brand dominates the category with extensive marketing and the unique attribute of product differentiation through nutrient enrichment. A branded egg, that fails to offer a specific attribute over a generic private label egg is regarded as noncompetitive.

 

Almark Foods Appoints CEO

The directors of Almark Foods announced the appointment of Rick Anderson as the CEO of Almark Foods, founded in 1990 and subsequently acquired in 2005 by John Stanton and Don Stoner who expanded the enterprise.  Anderson was most recently the CEO of Gold Coast Bakeries and has twenty years experience in food manufacturing and production of branded, private label, and co-packed foods.

 

Almark is a leading manufacturer of hard-boiled eggs, egg products for retail and food service and speciality items under the Artisan Kitchens brand.  Almark Foods operates plants in Yuma, AZ, Gainesville, GA, in addition to facilities in South Carolina and Tennessee.

 

On commenting on the appointment Don Stoner, Co-founder and Director, noted “We are confident that Rick, a seasoned executive who has shown the ability to grow and scale businesses is the right person to take Almark Foods to the next level.”  Anderson noted “There is a tremendous opportunity for the company to continue its amazing growth and Almark Foods is a leader in the category for convenient on-the-go foods that provide high protein and good nutrition.”


Rick Anderson

 

 

 


 

Central Valley Eggs Acquired By Hickman’s Family Farms.

Previously a one-third partner in Central Valley Eggs, Hickman’s Family Farms has acquired control of the company from Opal Foods and Western Milling. The enterprise originally received funding from AGR Partners.

 

Central Valley Eggs comprises a complex housing two million hens in aviaries, located near Wasco in Kern County.

The acquisition by Hickman’s Family Farms was financed by Proterra Investment Partners LLP., managing $2.9 billion in investments in the U.S., Brazil, India and Australia.

 


 

Interaction Between Meat Plants and Housing of Workers

It is evident that meat packing plants become “hot spots” for COVID-19 involving not only plant workers, but the community in which they are located.  The relationship between the incidence rate of COVID-19 and density within housing is evident among workers in specific rural counties in Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota where large packing plants are located.

 

Low-paid workers, frequently immigrants, occupy homes that include multi-generational occupants at high density making social distancing impossible. This situation is evident in Singapore where COVID-19 is almost completely confined to migrant workers who live in dormitories.  It is estimated that 10 percent of all migrant workers have become infected since March, compared to less than 0.1 percent of the general population, most of whom live in small apartments. During the past few weeks, among confirmed cases reported in Singapore over 94 percent are among residents of migrant worker dormitories, with the proportion rising to 99 percent during the past two weeks.

 

Concentrating workers in confined spaces with inadequate ventilation and with poor hygiene and facilities for hand washing contributes to aerosol transmission in addition to contact with contaminated surfaces. Close proximity between susceptible individuals and infected carriers, many of whom are asymptomatic, leads to infection.  This is noted on cruise ships and prisons and can be expected where people gather, justifying lock-down recommendations and closing places of worship, entertainment centers and even educational institutions where appropriate distancing cannot be achieved.

High population density in Singapore Dormitory

 

Fortunately egg packing plants do not attain the density of meat plants although transmission can occur in break rooms, locker areas and offices. Appropriate preventive measures include staggering clock-in times and breaks, providing masks that must be worn in situations of close contact. Installation of dry hydrogen peroxide generators to producing a virucidal vapor should be considered for areas where staff congregate.


 

New Uzelac Gasket Available for Low-cost Retrofit

Uzelac Industries has produced a modified gasket for dryer outlet tubes that is more cost-effective than the previous version that had riveted seals that eventually became detached with wear. The new gaskets have a bolted-on seal with fixatives located above the area of wear, allowing for extended operation

 

Instead of purchasing a completely new gasket when the seals eventually wear out, Uzelac seals can be purchased separately and bolted onto the existing gasket, saving maintenance cost.

 

Additional information and an estimate of cost can be accessed at < info@uzelacind.com>


 

Commentary


Senate Democrats Propose Increased Funding for Food Production

In a Bill under consideration by the Senate Agriculture Committee, over $7.5 billion would be made available in grants, loans and guarantees to improve distribution of food to the needy.  The Bill proposes $5.5 billion for producers to upgrade equipment, expand facilities and make available new products. An allotment of $1 billion would assist organizations involved in emergency feeding.  Approximately $1 billion would be made available to subsidize storing and distribution of perishable foods by food banks.

 

According to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member on the Senate Agriculture Committee "the COVID-19 crisis is testing the strength of our nation's food supply chain creating a ripple effect that’s harming our families, farmers and workers".  She added "this bill will help strengthen our food supply by redirecting food to families and helping farmers and processors retool their operations". 

 

 


Sen Stabenow

It is apparent that despite the best intentions and actions of Congress, making money available to the designated recipients does not necessarily relieve the stresses and hunger among families who have been impacted by COVID-19.  This is especially the case with children deprived of meals that would have been provided at their now-closed schools. It appears that between the Federal and state bureaucracies they collectively are unable to effectively even give away money! (see item on child hunger in this edition).

 

The egg industry is especially generous in donating and delivering products to local food banks. The inherent nutritional value of eggs, especially for children, ease of preparation and low cost for storage and distribution should be recognized by relief agencies that could purchase and supply more eggs to needy families given current needs.


 

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Dr. Simon M. Shane
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