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September 17, 2020

US frozen-food firm Overhill Farms set for Covid fine

Overhill Farms, the US frozen-foods supplier, faces a fine in California for allegedly failing to protect staff from Covid-19.

By Dean Best

Overhill Farms, the US frozen-foods supplier, faces a fine in California for allegedly failing to protect staff from Covid-19.

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The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
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State government officials are proposing more than US$200,000 in penalties for both Overhill and employment agency Jobsource North America.

According to a statement from California’s Department of Industrial Relations, Overhill and Jobsource “did not take any steps to install barriers or implement procedures to have employees work at least six feet away from each other” at two factories in Vernon.

The companies have also been accused of failing to investigate “any of their employees’ Covid-19 infections”, which, the state said, included “more than 20 illnesses and, in the case of Overhill Farms, one death”.

In April, state officials opened inspections with Overhill and Jobsource after, the statement said, “receiving complaints of hazards related to Covid-19”. The inspections included visits to two facilities in Vernon where Overhill employees and workers from Jobsource manufacture frozen foods.

The state claims hundreds of employees were “exposed to serious illness” from Covid-19 due to a lack of physical distancing measures among workers. At the larger of the two facilities in Vernon, officials are claimed to have identified 330 workers of Overhill and 60 employees of Jobsource exposed to the virus from the lack of physical distancing. State officials said at the smaller site 80 Overhill workers and 40 Jobsource staff did packing operations, worked in marinating and processed raw poultry “without any distancing procedures or protective barriers in place”.

“It is critical that employers evaluate the workplace and take proactive measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace,” Doug Parker, chief of California’s Occupational Safety and Health division (Cal/OSHA), said. “If a Covid-19 illness occurs, employers must investigate the case to determine if additional protective measures should be taken and report the serious illnesses and deaths to Cal/OSHA. Employers should also notify workers of possible exposure and report outbreaks to county public health officials.”

Overhill faces a proposed penalty of $222,075, with Jobsource in line to be hit with a fine of $214,080.

just-food has approached Overhill owner Bellisio Foods for comment.

In a statement published in The Los Angeles Times, Overhill Farms said it would contest the “erroneous” allegations, adding that Cal/OSHA had falsely claimed the company had failed to install dividers between staff.

“The health and safety of our employees is our first priority,” Overhill said. “Overhill Farms has not only taken steps in line with the constantly evolving federal, state and local guidance, we have gone above and beyond those recommendations as we developed our employee safety procedures.”

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Free Report
img

What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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