WICHITA, Kan. – Cargill Meat Solutions announced on Oct. 3 it had laid off 130 employees at its Springdale, Ark., turkey processing plant while it awaits federal approval to reopen its ground turkey production line following aSalmonellaHeidelberg outbreak.

“Having to conduct a layoff of Cargill employees at the Springdale facility is unfortunate and regrettable,” Mike Martin, director of communications, told MEATPOULTRY.com. “After the Aug. 3 ground turkey recall, we filled existing vacancies in other portions of the facility that continue to operate and some employees took vacation and volunteered to take time off. However, our ground turkey production has been shut down since the end of shifts on Friday, Sept. 9, and the subsequent voluntary and precautionary recall initiated on Sept. 11 for possible contamination bySalmonella Heidelberg, based upon a positive test result from USDA.

“We reached a point where we had no work for 130 of the more than 1,200 Cargill employees at Springdale,” Martin added. Employees were informed of the job cuts on Oct. 3.

“We are assessing our food-safety plan as we continue to explore measures that will further enhance food safety and minimize the potential for food borne illness from bacteria such asSalmonellaHeidelberg,” Martin continued. “The collective challenge for processors, regulators and food-safety professionals is mitigating the naturally and randomly occurring bacteria that pose potential human health risks. We hope to be in a position to resume ground turkey production in the near future and bring people back to work.”