SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Several local grocery stores are now limiting how much meat you can buy at one time.
The move comes as meat plants across the country struggle to remain open.
A spokesperson for Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions said in the Southern California market they, "implemented a temporary limit of two packages per household on select meat items. Customer purchases will be limited to two packages of beef, chicken, and pork (this means they can purchase up to six packages of meat – two per commodity). We are not experiencing and do not anticipate any issues with supply or product availability. We did so to prevent panic buying and to ensure more of our customers can find the products they need."
A spokesperson for Ralphs also said they are not concerned about the supply of the product. "At Ralphs and Food 4 Less, we feel good about our ability to maintain a broad assortment of meat and seafood for our customers because we purchase protein from a diverse network of suppliers. There is plenty of protein in the supply chain; however, some processors are experiencing challenges. At this time, we've added purchase limits only on ground beef and fresh pork."
The president of the California Association of Meat Processors (CAMP) told 10News that protein will be available, but customers might have to look in places other than the grocery store.
"The supply is going to tighten up obviously," said CAMP President David Dewey.
Dewey stressed there's plenty of product, the issue is with the processing and distribution chain.
"This thing is going to pass," he said. "It may be two to four weeks before the supply catches up with the demand."
Earlier this week, President Trump signed an order to classify meat processing as a critical industry to ensure that production plants stay open.
The move comes as the union representing meatpackers called for increased safety and security measures for workers.
In a news release posted to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) website, the organization’s president wrote, "To protect America's food supply, America's meatpacking workers must be protected. The reality is that these workers are putting their lives on the line every day to keep our country fed during this deadly outbreak, and at least 20 meatpacking workers have tragically died from coronavirus while more than 5,000 workers have been hospitalized or are showing symptoms. For the sake of all our families, we must prioritize the safety and security of these workers."
The release went on to say, "We urge the Administration to immediately enact clear and enforceable safety standards that compel all meatpacking companies to provide the highest level of protective equipment through access to the federal stockpile of PPE, ensure daily testing is available for workers and their communities, enforce physical distancing at all plants, and provide full-paid sick leave for any workers who are infected."
It's important to note the U.S. Department of Agriculture has stated, "We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods."