The coronavirus kicked off a health crisis that’s driving a separate, but related, economic crisis. The combined effect of these two crises has brought our country to a near standstill. Suffice it to say, we are in a transcendent war that knows no boundaries. Our enemy, the coronavirus, is determined and it doesn’t discriminate. As scary as this can feel, I draw an equal, if not greater amount of inspiration from the selfless acts of service from healthcare providers, first responders, and ordinary Americans that surround us every day.

The T. Marzetti Company has two priorities: First, to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of our team members and by extension their loved ones. Second, to ensure that we continue to play our part in the vital food supply chain.

Like other organizations, we are complying with all guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local health departments regarding the coronavirus COVID19.

We are employing every tool at our disposal including engaging a Pulmonology and Critical Care Physician to advise us on our employee safety protocols. Based on the advice of these experts, we have put in place a range of safety modifications and guidelines in our factories and distribution centers to ensure that we can operate safely, including but not limited to:

1) Leveraging supervisors to greet employees and to inquire about their health prior to them entering the building

2) Engaging a third party to conduct employee temperature checks prior to each shift at our Ohio, Kentucky, and New Jersey locations, where our largest plants are located. All other locations will be brought on-line once we are able to secure thermometers and PPE. We are also asking all employees to check their own temperature prior to their shifts.

3) Conducting extensive cleaning and sanitation of workstations and common areas before, during, and after each shift

4) Employing social distancing guidelines and modifications at workspaces and in break areas

5) Staggering between shift changes and breaks so that employees don’t overlap

6) Relaxing attendance requirements and enhancing our paid leave policy

7) Working from home whenever and wherever possible at least until May 4th 

Our business, like the rest of the food supply chain, is undergoing unprecedented shifts in demand as America confronts the coronavirus. Through the uncertainty of it all, our teammates in our factories and distribution centers and our truck drivers continue to work tirelessly to meet the unprecedented shifts in demand. As a token of our gratitude, on March 27th we granted each of these front-line teammates a $300 cash bonus. Unfortunately, earlier this week one of our employees tested positive for COVID19. The employee was not at work when the diagnosis was received and was directed by their physician to remain at home under quarantine for 14 days where the employee will be on paid leave.

Once we were made aware, we activated our protocol for a COVID-19 diagnosis. First, we identified and informed four employees that were working in proximity to the employee in question. Next, we placed all four employees on paid leave for 14 days, instructed them to go home and self-quarantine, and advised them to reach out to their physician or our telemedicine resource if they became symptomatic. And finally, we performed an extensive cleaning and sanitation of the area in question. These actions are consistent with the recommendations from the CDC and Ohio Department of Health.

As this pandemic continues, we will continue to monitor the FDA, the CDC and the state public health authorities and follow all the recommendations they prescribe. We will also continue to follow the guidance of the FDA about COVID-19 and food safety. Per the FDA, there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. We will continue to ensure that no product is produced or shipped that does not meet our strict food safety standards.

As I mentioned in my recent videos, it is easy to be The Better Food Company in the best of times. Your actions through this crisis have demonstrated that you can be The Better Food Company even in the most challenging of times. Thank you for everything you do every day for each other and our business to make us The Better Food Company.

Click here for more COVID-19 coverage and how it is affecting the refrigerated and frozen foods industry.