Extension provides first specific direction for small business meat processors in Nebraska


LINCOLN, Neb. —With the continuing spread of COVID-19, Nebraska Extension has released best practices for controlling COVID-19 in small meat processors in Nebraska.

The best practices, available online at disaster.unl.edu/agriculture, provide information on standard cleaning and sanitation, handling customer sales and purchases, and for employees who eat in the facility, among other recommendations.

“There has been no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food consumption, including meat,” said Dennis Burson, an extension educator and food safety specialist who has relationships with many small meat processors in Nebraska.

That said, it is still important for processors to follow best practices in order to protect the health of employee, he said.

The spread of COVID-19 among employees at larger meat processing plants has led several large processing facilities to temporarily close. Smaller meat processors have stepped up and in many cases increased production in order to process livestock that farmers and ranchers have sold directly to consumers. The continued operation of smaller processors is crucial to livestock producers and consumers.

Gentert Packing Company is a small family business, located at Holstein, Neb., population 214.  

Owner Belinda Gentert has recently seen an increase in foot traffic at their retail location due to a shortage of meat in grocery stores.

“We are really small. Typically, we are booked out three to four weeks and more busy times up to six weeks. We are now booking into September,” Gentert said.

Other COVID-19 resources available include best practices for agricultural producers and resources from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Additional resources for individuals and communities are available at disaster.unl.edu.

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