Community lunch provided by JBS

Company dumps 13 million pounds of spoiled meat in landfill

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - Trucks loaded with cardboard boxes of spoiled meat streamed from the JBS Marshalltown plant to the Marshall County Landfill throughout the day Sunday. The tornado that ripped through town Thursday damaged the plantÕs distribution center, meaning 13 million pounds of meat had to be thrown out. The plant is expected to begin operations again this week.

Thursday’s tornado dealt a blow some of Marshalltown’s largest employers — JBS Pork was one of them; despite the damage, the company hosted a cookout Sunday and began getting back to a sense of normalcy.

“Our plant was hit by the storm, but more significantly a lot of our employees were impacted by it, as well as the local community,” said JBS corporate affairs head Cameron Bruett. “We knew that a lot of people were without power, without food and thought, being a food company, having a cookout would be a good way to show our support for the community.”

The pork burgers, hot dogs, brats, hamburgers and more cooked up in the YMCA-YWCA parking lot drew a large crowd Sunday morning and afternoon. Water and chips were also provided.

“Being the largest employer in Marshalltown, we wanted to help the community,” said JBS Pork- Marshalltown Plant Manager Todd Carl. “What’s most important is helping people.”

Helping serve up food that afternoon were about 40 staff members from Iowa Select Farms. Carl said the company provides about half of the 5.8 million hogs processed at the Marshalltown plant annually.

“We have a large operation in iowa, we’re actively involved in our communities,” said Iowa Select Farms Chief Operating Officer Noel Williams. “We just want to do what we can to pitch in and help out.”

Bruett said not everyone who needed a hot meal was able to come and get one at the Y parking lot Sunday.

“Some people don’t want to leave, their home is vulnerable … so we’re delivering food also,” he said.

While the community came together over food Sunday, JBS personnel were hard at work clearing the way for recovery. One priority was to move millions of pounds of spoiled meat out of the tornado-damaged distribution center.

“We ended up throwing away everything in inventory,” Carl said. He said the total amount of meat dumped at the Marshall County Landfill Sunday was about 13 million pounds, a little over half of the distribution center’s total capacity of 24 million pounds.

During normal operation, it is normal to see trucks driving to the JBS plant day in and day out. Sunday, they were taking tons of meat away from the plant.

Loaded with boxes of meat, the trucks pulled into the landfill dispensed the spoiled pork. The unpleasant smell of rotting meat was kept to a minimum by a strong breeze from the east.

Back at the JBS plant, the recovery stage was under way. Carl said some operations will resume Monday.

“We’ll start slaughtering hogs again on Tuesday,” he said. “In one week from Monday, I would expect to be full-speed again.”

The plant was among several large and small businesses in Marshalltown to be impacted by the EF-3 tornado that ripped through the city late last week.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com