Smithfield Foods reduced its slaughter schedule to four days from five at its Tar Heel, NC facility, Reuters reported. The move reflects the growing impact of the spread of PEDv. The virus poses no food-safety risk, but piglets are especially vulnerable to the disease. Up to 80 percent of the piglets that contract it die from the virus which causes acute diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration in hogs and piglets.
The deaths of millions of piglets since this past May have been attributed to PEDv. The USDA's daily estimated hog slaughter report issued on March 14 showed hogs slaughtered declined to 360,000 head from 411,000 a week ago.
The Tar Heel plant is the largest pork-processing plant in the United States with an estimated slaughtering capacity of up to 34,000 hogs per day.