Does Applegate have a plan if there’s a confirmed COVID-19 case at a co-packer or distribution facility?
Human health is of top priority. We’ve been in constant contact with our key partners to ensure they all have the safety protocols in place for handling a COVID-19 scenario in their facilities. If necessary, we have contingency plans in place to move our production to other facilities should a plant have to shut down due to the coronavirus.
Have there been any outbreaks within your network?
Yes. There have been a few outbreaks within our network of copackers/processors that have required a temporary closure so the facility can be deep cleaned, and any additional employee safety procedures can be reviewed and enacted.
What about food safety?
According to experts including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, Applegate partners who produce and distribute our food have taken extra precautions, including increased sanitization and deep cleanings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What safety changes are in place to protect workers?
Applegate works with a network of partners who raise animals to our Applegate humanely raised standards, as well as process and produce our products. Human health is of top priority and we have been working closely with these partners to ensure they have heightened safety measures and procedures in place so that workers are protected. Measures include, but are not limited to, social distancing, use of protective equipment and increased cleaning and sanitation procedures. We are also ensuring any workers showing symptoms remain home until they recover. Our highest priority right now is to ensure all workers within our network are protected, so we can continue to provide high-quality natural and organic meats for families nationwide.
Will Applegate change any standards in order to increase supply during this time?
No. Applegate was built on a mission- Changing The Meat We Eat®- and our mission will not change even during this unprecedented time. We recognize that our brand is built on the trust of our loyal customers, which is why we are committed to maintaining the highest quality and safety standards for our products.
Our products are made without GMO ingredients, and we source from farms where animals are treated with care and respect and are allowed to grow at their natural rate, all part of our mission - Changing The Meat We Eat®. Natural can mean many things, but to Applegate natural means our food is:
- From animals that are Applegate Humanely Raised without antibiotics, added hormones or growth promotants
- From animals fed a vegetarian or pasture-centered diet (our beef is 100% grass-fed)
- Free of added chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates
- Free of artificial ingredients or preservatives
I’m hearing a lot about COVID-19 outbreaks at big meat plants like Smithfield and Tyson. Is Applegate having similar experiences?
Applegate works with partners to process and produce our products – and they have not reported large outbreaks of COVID-19. Our partners are typically much smaller in size and capacity compared to the large conventional plant facilities because Applegate has a highly specialized, unique supply chain.
Do any of your products include ingredients sourced from China?
We do not import meat from China, or other countries of concern, for our products. A limited number of ingredients, including spices, vegetables and grains are sourced from third-party suppliers. We rely on our independent suppliers and co-packers to work diligently to fulfill our preference for ingredients not imported from China and to follow strict food safety protocols.
Is Applegate doing anything differently regarding food production?
Public health experts say there is no evidence that COVID-19 poses a food safety hazard. However, in addition to our stringent food safety protocols and quality assurance processes, all of our partners are taking extra steps and precautions such as more frequent deep cleanings.
Has Applegate had to euthanize any animals like other companies?
Fortunately, no. While Applegate has not had to face this challenge, it is still heart-breaking to hear. Thus far, our unique supply chain has helped us avoid this situation; however, we are closely monitoring our supply chain to identify potential disruptions early and develop contingency plans we can enact quickly to avoid any need for euthanizing animals.
I thought I heard an Applegate supplier had to euthanize animals. Is that true?
An Applegate poultry supplier has been forced to euthanize some of their animals due to processing labor shortages related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This is a rare instance and last resort after every effort has been made to avoid this situation. While this is a heart-breaking scenario, we are fortunate that animals raised for Applegate were not part of this group. Our high animal welfare standards mean our animals are separated from the rest of this supplier’s flock and are processed through a separate and unique supply chain, which has thus far helped us avoid the situation. We are closely monitoring our supply chain to identify potential disruptions early and develop contingency plans we can enact quickly to avoid any need for euthanasia.
Why can’t the animals just continue living on the farm until space becomes available at a processing plant?
Euthanasia is not a course of action that we take lightly. It is only considered after every effort has been made to avoid the situation. Unfortunately, quality of life can decrease for animals the longer they live. In some cases, the space required for each animal becomes limiting and creates crowded conditions. Animals that can be relocated to a safe environment are moved. In some species, animals can become too heavy and are unable to comfortably move on their own. Applegate follows standards set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association and in consultation with our on-staff animal welfare experts. We take our responsibility for high animal welfare standards seriously and must consider the quality of life for the animal.