Kroger stores in the greater Cincinnati area have begun to limit the amount of meat customers can buy on each visit, according to employees at several locations in Cincinnati.
New signs near the shop windows on May 1st tell customers to buy only two packs of meat products at a time.
In a statement, Kroger spokeswoman Erin Rolfes wrote down the limit values that only apply to ground beef and fresh pork. However, employees at the meat division in Newport, Kentucky and the Cincinnati Hyde Park store said they learned that chicken was also included in the new policy.
“At Kroger, we feel we are in a good position to offer our customers a wide range of meat and seafood because we source protein from a diverse network of suppliers,” Rolfes wrote. “There is a lot of protein in the supply chain. However, some processors face challenges. “
Challenges referenced in Kroger’s statement likely include COVID-19-related disruptions at major meat suppliers across the country, many of which have failed to protect workers from the virus even as pressures to further process food rise and to pack.
In late April, six days after the country’s largest meat supplier shut down a large processing facility because of high infection rates, President Donald Trump invoked the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to designate meat processing plants as “critical infrastructure” – places where work should be continued with the help of the federal government even during the pandemic.
It was a move designed to prevent further downtime and the possibility of bottlenecks. Despite the introduction of new health and safety standards in many plants, infection remains a problem for workers.
In a May 1 survey of 130,578 meat processing workers in 19 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 4,913 tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
USA Today forecast on Friday that meat shortages would not be as widespread as toilet paper shortages in the earliest days of the pandemic. Customers are more likely to see localized bottlenecks with certain cuts or types, not with completely empty shelves.