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Where's The Beef? Nationwide Meat Shortage Forces Wendy's To Scale Back Menu

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)It's the slogan that Wendy's made famous, but now the fast food chain is having trouble answering that very question, "Where's the beef?"

Where's The Beef? Nationwide Meat Shortage Forces Wendy's To Scale Back Menu
A Wendy's restaurant in Burbank, Calif. May 5, 2020. (CBS2)

With the coronavirus outbreak leading to closures of meat processing plants across the nation, Wendy's has been forced to pull certain items from its menu.

The company confirmed to CBS Los Angeles Tuesday that some menu items may be unavailable to due to beef shortages from its suppliers.

A photo taken at a store in Burbank Tuesday showed that its Double Stack and Chicken Go Wrap were unavailable.

"It is widely known that beef suppliers across North America are currently facing production challenges," the company said in a statement Wednesday to CBS Los Angeles. "We continue to supply hamburgers to all of our restaurants, with deliveries two or three times a week, which is consistent with normal delivery schedules. However, some of our menu items may be temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment. We're working diligently to minimize the impact to our customers and restaurants, and continue to work with our supplier partners to monitor this closely."

Albertsons and Kroger stores in Southern California last week began limiting the sale of certain beef, pork and poultry items at their stores to only two per customer. Costco Monday followed suit, limiting customers to three items.

Several meat processing plants nationwide have closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks among workers. On April 29, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring all meat processing plants to stay open, or to reopen if they had already closed. However, some plants have been unable to follow the order because they do not have enough employees to do so, either because the workers have already been infected with COVID-19, or they are afraid of coming to work and getting sick.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, of the 130,000 workers at 115 meat processing facilities nationwide, 4,913 have been infected with coronavirus and 20 have died from the disease as of May 1.

"Operationally, we have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety," Tyson Foods, one of the world's largest meat processors, said in a statement Monday accompanying its second-quarter earnings report.

Tyson Foods CEO Noel White seemed to imply that more plants will close this year.

"We will not hesitate to idle any plant for deep cleaning when the need arises," White told reporters Monday, according to CNN.

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