Rochelle Foods To Reopen Monday with Industry-Leading Health and Safety Measures
The facility, which makes grocery, foodservice and specially-formulated cancer nutrition products, completed testing of its team members last week with the vast majority of them testing negative. Of those who tested positive, numerous people had no noticeable symptoms. During the pause in operations, additional enhanced safety procedures were implemented including deep cleaning of high-touch areas, reconfiguration of common areas and workstations, revised shift scheduling, new guidelines on carpooling and more extensive social distancing measures. Rochelle Foods will be moving forward with a reopening plan that exceeds CDC and OSHA guidelines, outlines procedures for continued team member safety and raises the bar on best practices in the food industry. Rochelle Foods is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE:HRL), a global branded food company.
Bill Rice, Rochelle Foods plant manager said, “We have been a proud member of Ogle County and Rochelle for decades and we know that this current COVID-19 pandemic has been a very difficult situation for our team members, their families, our friends and neighbors, our community and our nation. We want to thank the community for the outpouring of support as we navigate this pandemic’s impact and those who helped us execute our pilot testing program. Everyone who has reached out to us and our team members understands this pandemic is occurring everywhere and we are not alone in our efforts to protect our team members and this community. We have put the safety of our team members first throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so. As a leading employer in the area, and one with our core priority on the health and safety of our employees, we are certainly eager to get back to doing what we love and that’s making great food.”
Rochelle Foods also knows that the community has been hit hard by layoffs and furloughs, and that food insecurity is at an all-time high in the community. Therefore, the company and its team members will donate 10,000 meals to Feeding America and the local food bank. This is in addition to more than $10,000 already donated to support the community hunger programs during the COVID-19 crisis. This donation is to thank those members of the community who have demonstrated overwhelming support to the company and team members during this temporary pause in production.
On Monday, the company finalized its detailed plan, developed in conjunction with third-party health and safety experts, outlining all the steps it had taken and will continue to take as it reopens its food facility. This document will serve as a blueprint for ongoing operations. The KEEP COVID OUT! initiative will serve as an ongoing initiative throughout the pandemic to ensure a focus on safety in the workplace and outside of work in the community and at home.
Safety First is the company’s core cultural belief, and since the beginning of the COVID-19 situation, the company has taken significant steps to prevent community spread from entering its facility and impacting its team members. These robust steps include temperature screening for all who enter the plant, masks and personal protective equipment, social distancing enhancements and continued education on COVID-19.
The company has been working closely with external health experts, including those at Mayo Clinic, as well as following and exceeding all CDC guidelines since the very early days of COVID-19 in the United States.
“As these national health experts have told us, we understand that with more testing, we will see more positives,” Rice added. “We are focused on the health and safety of our team members and these test results will help us ensure people understand their current status. In some cases, it is possible that there are individuals who have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic and others who may not have realized they had symptoms.”
During this global pandemic, Rochelle Foods, along with other essential manufacturers in the food industry, was designated as an essential business and stayed open because it was asked to step up and ensure Americans had food available during this unprecedented crisis. Many manufacturing facilities from many different industries are facing similar challenges given the community spread of COVID-19, including in the state of Illinois where cases are among the most significant.
“Rochelle Foods, and our parent company, Hormel Foods, have a tremendous relationship with our regulatory partners at the local, state and federal level, including the USDA and FDA. As a global company, we understand the importance of ensuring people and food safety. We will continue to put team members’ safety first at Rochelle Foods as we look forward to reopening on Monday,” said Richard Carlson, vice president of quality assurance at Hormel Foods.