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Peanut shelling plant reopens after weeklong closure

PORTALES — A Portales peanut shelling facility has reopened a week after being closed when “several employees” tested positive for COVID-19, a release said.

The Borden plant reopened Monday, according to a release from parent company Severn Peanut Company.

“We had some employees test positive, and with all the recent news involving outbreaks at meat processing facilities, we thought it best to close down and address the issue proactively,” Severn President Dallas Barnes wrote. “We worked closely with both state and local officials with the New Mexico Department of Health to get our team tested and ensure we follow all the proper protocols. We are grateful for their prompt and professional help. They’ve been great to work with.”

The company has not specified how many employees tested positive, but said more than 70 tests were administered among staff and less than 10% came back positive over a three-week period.

Portales has three active facilities under the Severn umbrella — a shelling facility on East Lime, the Hampton Farms roasting facility on N.M. 467 and a seed shelling plant on U.S. 70. The positive cases were limited to the East Lime location.

Severn also owns the former Ready Roast plant on U.S. 70, and production is scheduled to begin there in a few weeks.

Barnes noted in the release some of the employees who tested positive have since cleared the required quarantine period and are looking forward to getting back to work.

The release said there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.

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