The global pandemic has created COVID-19 hot spots in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, exposing what an April 18 New York Times report called "the food chain's weakest link." It also revealed that despite Americans' near insatiable appetite for meat, there are only about 800 meat processing plants in the entire country, responsible for "processing billions of pounds of meat for food stores each year."
In an effort to ensure that all customers have access to meat products, the San Antonio-based grocer is reinstating purchase limits that mirror those implemented at the height of COVID-19 purchase panic in March.
The updated restrictions, says H-E-B, are to ensure its own supply chain remains in tact.
"Limiting product purchases is a proven way to ensure the best service and product availability for all customers," the company said in a release. "Our stores are in strong supply and we continue to restock products daily."
In Austin and Central Texas, the following limits now apply:
- Fresh beef, ground beef, chicken, pork, turkey — limit 5 packages total (note: not 5 packages of each)
- Frozen chicken — limit 2 packages total
- Frozen raw beef burgers — limit 2 packages total
The above restrictions also apply to H-E-B stores in San Antonio, Gulf Coast, Border region, and certain West and North Texas towns.
Restrictions for Houston, as well as Abilene, Big Spring, Burleson, Cleburne, Granbury, Hudson Oaks, Midland, Odessa, San Angelo, and Waxahachie, can be found here.
As for non-food items, the following products remain restricted at all Texas stores:
- Acetaminophen — 2 items total (includes baby, trial and travel sizes, OTC)
- H-E-B Acid Controller/Famotidine and Pepcid 50ct and larger — Limit 1
- H-E-B Acid Controller/Famotidine and Pepcid smaller than 50ct — Limit 2
- Baby wipes — 2 items
- Disinfecting and antibacterial sprays — 2 items
- Disinfecting and antibacterial wipes — 2 items
- Trial and travel size disinfecting and antibacterial sprays/wipes — 2 items
- Liquid bleach — 2 items
- Hand sanitizer — 4 items
- Hand soap — 4 items
- Aloe Vera — 2 items (Digestive Health, Skincare/Suncare, Healthy Living)
- Hydrogen peroxide — 2 items
- Rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol/swabs — 2 items
- First-aid and cleaning gloves — 2 items
- Masks — 2 items
And, as it's been throughout the pandemic, H-E-B is not accepting returns on a number of products, ranging from paper towels and bath tissue to laundry detergent. A full list of those restrictions can be found here.