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Food Supply Industry Asks White House for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Priority

Plus, Waffle House is collaborating on a beer, and more news to start your day

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Meatpacking workers in full protective gear work an assembly line in a processing plant. Photo: El Nariz/Shutterstock

Food processing and agriculture companies lobby for vaccine prioritization

With news that pharmaceutical and biotech companies including Pfizer and Moderna are seeing success with coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials, the food and beverage industry is wasting no time asking the White House for priority whenever a vaccine becomes available.

Within days of Pfizer announcing that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective among trial volunteers, 15 trade groups — including the American Frozen Food Institute, the Consumer Brands Association, and the North American Meat Institute — sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that the federal government prioritize food processing and agriculture workers for a vaccine and organize a vaccine distribution program, Food Dive reports. These groups, which had sent a similar letter in June, are also in discussion with President-elect Joe Biden.

“Prioritizing vaccinations for food, agriculture, retail, and CPG workers will be a key intervention to help keep workers healthy and to ensure that agricultural and food supply chains remain operating,” the groups wrote.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccination program interim playbook, healthcare workers, non-healthcare essential workers, at-risk adults with underlying medical conditions, and people 65 and older could be prioritized for vaccinations if supply is initially limited. The food and beverage industry said it supports this prioritization of “essential workers in critical infrastructure industries, including those responsible for ensuring the continuity of our nation’s food supply,” after healthcare workers.

More than 72,000 workers in the food system — including 49,000 meatpacking workers, nearly 13,000 food processing workers, and 11,000 farm workers — have tested positive for COVID-19 as of November 13, FERN reports. These numbers don’t include restaurant and other workers from the service and hospitality sectors. To date, there have been more than 11.1 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and more than 246,000 people have died.

And in other news…

  • You can now customize Oreos onlines. [All Recipes]
  • Waffle House and Oconee Brewing Company are making a bacon-infused beer. [USA Today]
  • Disney and Roy Choi are working with chefs from five cities to create pizzas inspired by Disney characters, available from the collaborating chefs’ pizzerias before Thanksgiving. [Insider]
  • Here’s why Great British Bake-Off contestants have to wear the same clothes two days in a row. [Delish]
  • Scandinavians and other cold-weather folks have advice for dining outside as winter approaches. [WaPo]

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