K-State researchers study how to protect meatpacking plants from coronavirus

Coronavirus in Kansas

A stack of ground beef patties moves on a conveyor belt at a meat packing and distribution facility. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNW) – Researchers at Kansas State University were given a $1 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find out how to protect workers at meatpacking plants from the coronavirus. Some plants in the U.S. closed earlier in the pandemic when employees got sick.

In the biosecurity research institute, they will test ways to properly clean surfaces and new filtration systems for the air.

While their findings could help in other scenarios, they said they are working through unique challenges the meatpacking industry faces.

“You’re going to have a high-speed line with a lot of pieces of chicken or pork going down that and people working to pack that material. The equipment that passes over the tables, the rollers, that will become soiled with the oils the fats and the proteins of the meat,” said researcher Sally Davis. “Someone in that environment could be ill or there could be a release of the virus.”

The study will take about two years to complete, but they will provide updates along the way. “Someone in that environment could be ill or there could be a release of the virus.”

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